#BitterChocolate

chocolate shreds balls sticksPerhaps the best piece of business wisdom — certainly an item from the Top 5, and yet usually ignored — is that a customer who presents a problem is one ready to buy more stuff and gives  the company a chance to cement greater loyalty.*

In that spirit, and with the hope that #BitterChocolate will soon apply only to actual high-percentage-cocoa-solid and low-percentage-sugar “baking” chocolate, noted here are some current, saddening challenges for the world of chocolate.

  • Cacao fruit needs to be picked in West Africa and sent into processing without using child slavery, a tragedy recently brought to the fore again with the current case against Hershey, Cargill and ADM.
  • Ebola has to be contained and then cured so that its concentric circles of misery don’t damage the reputation of Ivory Coast caca and create Ghanaian smuggling cartels
  • The income cacao harvesters derive from their cacao fields has to increase so it will be easier for the Peru government to help farmers transition to coffee and chocolate from coca
  • While quality control gets ever more complicated, it still doesn’t excuse letting chocolate get exposed to pork — particularly not for chocolate heading to Muslim countries or for having lead and cadmium leech into anyone’s product
  • Finally (not, not really) there is the ongoing threat and potential for price fixing and collusion among Big Chocolate as they search for higher corporate profits.

Just a reminder, you always have the choice if the bad news is too sad to bring into your life a bit more Scandal, in this case the Japanese rock band with the catchy pop tune Bitter Chocolate

which it should be noted has nothing to do with chocolate, bitter or any other sort, but is just your “typical,” J-pop, #GrrlPwr, teen break-up lament.

*1) Of course, you have to convince the customer that the problem is satisfactorily resolved.
2) Briefly and with all typical caveats about generalizing, the biz-theory is that if unhappy customers don’t tell you the problem they may never come back, instead spreading their unhappy story to friends/acquaintances/social media contacts. Unhappy customers made happy, not only come back, but statistics say they’ll buy even more than before, and are more likely to become loyal, brand ambassadors who share the story of how the company cares so much about its customers that it goes out of the way to fix the bad.
3) While it may be easiest to lie and say the problem is fixed, it’s best to actually fix it not just for them, but all other customers as well … don’t worry there will be other problems so you will never run out of opportunities to grow the business by building from the foundation of customer problems and problem customers.

#chocolate #businessadvice #BigChocolate #Scandal #JPop #politics

Chocolate and Cheese, If It Please

chocolate & cheese adIt seems there is a day to celebrate nearly everything chocolate (Thursday was National Chocolate Chip Day; see the Almanac for more). But ’tis untrue. There are still chocolate and cheese combos to honor.

Actually, there are a host of chocolatish delectables more , but this particular un-embraced celebration is brought to the forefront by the recent announcement from British grocerpalooza Tesco that they are expanding their chocolate-cheese offerings. The first thought is “why?” The taste of a good chocolate is distinct with undertones and subtle aroma notes. That taste of heaven makes for an unlikely fit with a delicious bit of cheese, often a standout highlighted by esters and overtones on display like the new girl trying to stand out and drum up a bit of business in Amsterdam’s Rossebuurt. Of course, the answer turn is easily discovered with a quick Google (as most answers are): lots of folks love this sort of thing — whether it is the idea or actual flavor will not be argued here, today.

Particularly when you are trying to steer a few piastres into the till it seems worthwhile to accept that since people like chocolate and people like cheese — not necessarily the same people for both categories, but with enough overlap — there will be experimentation. Folks with enough biz-smart will pimp some of the results despite a culinary natural selection process un-guaranteed to bring about best in breed(ing). Consider, for example Philadelphia Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese spread courtesy of Junk Food Guy.

There will be Frankencheeses you can make at home like the chocolate cheese ball or outlier indulgences such as Paula Deen’s chocolate cheese fudge or Trader Joe’s chocolate cheddar, which appeal to some tastes or others.

Anyway, while it isn’t our cup of cocoa, kudos to everyone who embraces the idea of chocolate and cheese (and that other “c,” Capitalism), with a particular shout out to the Wisconsin dairy industry. On the soft-sell side they offer a a guide to chocolate/cheese pairings and for the harder sell they market their Valentine’s Day chocolate cheese delights (?!).

Back to Tesco’s announcement. We sympathize with why you might not want publicly to own up to such taste. However, for those at home with tastebuds stirred to the point of yearning, consider tossing together a chocolate cheese sandwich or batch of parmesan chocolate cheese crisps to quiet them down.

Give ’til It Tastes Well

chocolategoldmoney January is ended, as are many aspirations people began the year with — as demonstrated through their new year’s resolutions — dashed by their own stopdoingitiveness. However, there are folks, some part of the greater choco-community, who have persevered with their dreams into February.

So, if by chance you have saved money by quitting the gym or the weight loss program or the book or wine or cheese or whatever club you signed up for while in post-holiday self-help mode, there is still time and an easy way to make yourself feel better. Consider supporting folks looking for some financial support for their projects in chocolateland.

For example, you can help buy a new cocoa grinding machine for the Saqui Family and Maya Center Village to help produce a unique, Belizean chocolate that also — and, no, we’re not exactly sure we understand how — aids a jaguar preserve and cacao farm in the Central American country.

Also thought provoking, but in a very different way, is the request for funding of the promulgation of Naples, Fla., Judy Cakes’ fluffy chocolate covered beermallows (recipe and samples available for a $50 pledge), a combination of beer, chocolate and marshmallow that we bet you weren’t expecting to read about here either.

Although not strictly chocolate related, it is chocolate-relevant (and sad) that a proposed film will bring to light chocolate used for evil. Chocolate Boxes is Leeds’s Sean McMahon’s proposed student film telling a coming of age tale set in 1937 Yorkshire and taking its name from the explosive devices, strewn by Spanish Fascists where Spanish Republican children could find them.

Finally, while we are always admittedly a bit ambivalent about promoting competition, there is another reachout from fledlging chocolate makers, Cocoa Loco, trying to grow some wings in Stamford, Connecticut, who as part of their fund raising pitch promise a random distribution of a chocolate-covered Oreo or marshamallow in exchange for a pledge of $2.

Of course, if you happen to be coming to this post post-deadline for any of these funding campaigns, we encourage you to visit crowdfunding sources Kickstarter, GoFundMe, ChipIn, DonorsChoose, IndieGoGo, Quirky, Etsy and RocketHub [] to check out artists, entrepreneurs, dreamers, and (alas, yes, possibly) the overly self-indulgent and scam artists as well, who are trying throughout the year to live out their chocolate dreams … and maybe yours as well.

Not So Special Delivery

chocolate trainAPPARENTLY, someone got the midwinter blahs and so a new company, Good Cacao, threatens to take all the fun out of chocolate by selling le gran cacao as just a delivery system for other nutritional products. The basic pitch is that they throw a lot of healthy crap into some good chocolate and all bites are super-wonderful-food-functional chocolates. Consider yourself warned.

We’re not knocking chocolate as a delivery system. It’s raison d’être, after all, is to deliver mouth pleasure. We also have recently found ourselves pleased that ye olde brewmaster Samuel Smith brought the buzz with his Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout a valuable contribution to both the beer and chocolate families. Still, there is something cynical about using chocolate to deliver an eyelid jolting dash of caffeine in Awake Caffeinated Chocolate or even as a tourist delivery system to York, England.

We get it. Chocolate is a marketing tool (another word for delivery system) and that is why there is going to be a flood of chocolate-themed junk in the run-up to Valentines Day showing up on tv, in the email inbox, throughout social media and on screens everywhere in between). It just shouldn’t get out of hand.

Although it probably already has.

Elect More Chocolate Sales

NO news to anyone, there is an election going on all around. What is news — at least to stupid us — is that this would have been a great end to a sales campaign.

Report from Maryland’s The Perfect Truffle is that among the states reliably Democratic voters they are selling more Obama-themed chocolate than truffles featuring his opponent. Equally predictably, deep in a very red state the Oklahoma City University cafe is selling more Republican Romney bars than those with the Prez on the wrapper. Oh, and it continues not to be close among voters in Paris [Earlier: Chocolate Not Exactly Key…, in case that should matter.

So, on this election day we learn that we missed the boat on creating a campaign to make some money off current events and we continue to assume that no matter who you, your friends and loved ones vote for, everyone agrees this — a satiric, kicking-around-the-internet look at how an out-of-control bureaucracy would dictate a chocolate chip cookie recipe be written — is a small, chuckleworthy satire:

Bureaucrat’s Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies

For those government employees and bureaucrats who have problems with standard recipes, here’s one that should make the grade—a classic version of the chocolate chip cookie, translated for easy reading.

Total Lead Time
35 minutes

Inputs
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup softened butter
½ cup shortening
2 eggs
12 oz pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Guidance
After procurement actions, decontainerize inputs. Perform measurement tasks on a case-by-case basis. In a mixing-type bowl, impact heavily on brown sugar, granulated sugar, softened butter and shortening. Coordinate the interface of eggs and vanilla, avoiding an overrun scenario to the best of your skills and abilities.

At this point in time, leverage flour, baking soda and salt into the aforementioned mixing-type bowl and aggregate. Equalize with prior mixture and develop intense and continuous liaison among inputs
until well-coordinated. Associate key chocolate and nut subsystems and execute stirring operations.

Within this time frame, take action to prepare the heating environment for throughput by manually setting the oven baking unit by hand to a temperature of 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Drop mixture in an ongoing fashion from a teaspoon implement onto an ungreased OGCCU
sheet (see below) at intervals sufficient enough apart to permit total and permanent separation of throughputs to the maximum extent practicable under operating conditions.

Position OGCCU sheet in a bake situation and surveil for eight to 10 minutes or until cooking action terminates. Initiate coordination of outputs within the cooling rack function. Containerize, wrap in
red tape and disseminate to authorized staff personnel on a timely and expeditious basis.

Output
Six dozen Official Government Chocolate Chip Units (OGCCUs).

Name Games

No sooner does one burg lay claim to being Chocolate Town (in the service of its tourist industry) than another town snatches up the moniker Chocolateville (with the hope of keeping the bankruptcy wolf from its doors).

C-Ville, currently better known as bankrupt Central Falls, Rhode Island, is harking back to 18th century merchant William Wheat, who seems to have wandered from Boston to Providence to Central Falls in search of the right place to vend his chocolate — which was the right place from the 1780s until his death in the early 1800s.

The manner of the harking is via the creation of chocolatiere Andrew Shotts, he of Garrison Confections, who offers his $5 Save Chocolateville bar to raise funds for local childrens’ charities.