Friday, January 30, 2015

The American Whey

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.
What has drawn my ire this week? Well let's see:

Greece being a bunch of dicks about all the money they owe back to Europe?
The underwhelming Blizzard, for those of us in New York City?
Another Hezbollah attack on Israel?
More tragedies involving guns and children?
Louis CK canceling his show that I was supposed to go to Tuesday night (see "blizzard" above)?
Paltry coverage of the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz?
Deflategate and those murderous cheats?

Well, yes... at various times this week, all of the above have bothered me. But only one thing has forced me into action. Only one thing got me up off my ass and over to the computer to angrily spew my fury into the ether-world. I can no longer sit idly by and watch this wrong being blatantly committed. A wrong so severe, it would deprive a sector of the world of items which are vital to the enjoyment and appreciation of life as we know it. An egregious use of our judicial system to benefit the pockets of a major corporation who does not care about the consumer, who does not care about quality, who merely cares about protecting their own interests, even if it is legally questionable and morally reprehensible.

This week Hershey took major steps to block the import and distribution of Cadbury's chocolate in the US. Read more about that here.

Ok, admittedly, I only kind-of paid attention during social studies class way back when. Yet as unsure as I am about the participants in the war of 1812 or who was president before Monroe, I am pretty confident that anti-trust laws exist. And they exist for a reason, several actually: to promote fair competition, protect consumers and prevent monopolies. It was definitely confirmed a long time ago that monopolies are bad. And yet these actions by Hershey can be viewed as nothing short of an attempt to monopolize the candy world by controlling the selections available to American consumers. I will also call into question whether they should have been allowed to purchase distribution for Cadbury in the US in first place, but as with any other rules, money talks and makes shit happen.

Free markets reflect consumer habits and demand. They help promote invention and variety and force quality to be maintained by allowing competition. They also prevent companies from slacking on invention, variety and quality.

In this case, Hershey distributes a version of Cadbury in the US that has been altered so what they do distribute is not even a fair representation of the actual taste and quality that the popular brand is known for. And then, if that weren't bad enough, they are negotiating with importers to prevent the distribution of the actual product from overseas. Their reasoning? Because some of their wrappers are a similar color to some of the products they make? Seriously. Am I understanding this correctly?

Hershey claims that the Cadbury Toffee Crisp bar comes in an orange package which could be confused with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. By whom exactly? Who would confuse a Toffee Crisp single candy bar with the flatter packaging of two round peanut butter cups? I am assuming they are referring to the large portion of the popularity that is forced to compare size and feel due to their inability to read "TOFFEE CRISP" or "REESES PEANUT BUTTER CUPS." Which leads me to the misrepresentation of a Yorkie milk chocolate chunk candy bar, which they claim is trying to be mistaken for a York Peppermint Patty. Listen, I know candy. Very well actually. And to put it most frankly: Ain't no candy bar wanting to be mistaken for no York peppermint patty. No way, no how.
Sorry, you were saying something about these being confusing? Yikes. Do I share the same air as the geniuses who can't tell the difference?
Don't get me wrong. I do like the sensation of biting into a York peppermint patty as much as the next guy. But why would a chunk style candy bar draw their legalese and not, for example, Junior Mints? Arguably the only other chocolate covered mint candy out there that people like. (Sorry After Eights, nothing personal). I can only assume it is because the delicious chocolate used in Yorkies, and Toffee Crisps, and Dairy Milks for that matter are superior to anything Hershey produces so they are running scared. Except instead of running they are standing their ground, and building a wall to keep the illegals out. Hmmmm, interesting concept, but why? Because if the foreigners came in it might prove just how lazy, unhealthy and inferior our proud American products are.

Oh yes, I went there. And I might have to seek Snowden-style refuge because of it. These Hershey people clearly have influence in all the right places. Otherwise how in the world could this atrocity be possible? It couldn't. It defies explanation.

I am taking this opportunity to write this open letter: To Cadbury, To Hershey, To the FDA, to whomever has any say in this matter whatsoever. Please, help protect the free and open market that America prides itself on. Don't force us to choose from only chocolate products that one company produces for us. Allow us the freedom (America, innit?) to choose. Our country has a tough time letting women decide for themselves, but gun owners seem to do alright. The point is, freedom can exist over here in certain circumstances. How about a little protection for someone who wants a Dairy Milk how the Cadbury family originally intended it to taste. I want my daughter to know the Mini Eggs in her Easter basket as the authentic, delicious version I've come to know and love. It is not only fair and just, it is the right thing to do.

Hey Hershey, instead of cock-blocking good chocolate, why not use this as an opportunity to self-examine, re-address some of your own shoddy ingredients, focus on your quality, on your specific taste and leave the Cadbury taste as is for those who prefer it. Or are you too afraid to go head to head? Cause that's what it seems like. It seems like you're scared so you're setting up these ridiculous legal precedents to protect your average product. I don't see how or why this could or should be legal.

Listen, I'm not trying to suggest Cadbury is the end all-be all when it comes to chocolate. Hershey, you've got the Whatchamacallit, and that's something to be proud of. But your brazenness knows no bounds, as exhibited by the Skittles debacle of late (replacing lime Skittles for green apple ones and upsetting the entire taste balance of the pack), and maybe I'm just not ready to forgive you yet. Competition, unlike the actual chocolate being discussed, is healthy. It's good for the marketplace. It's good for the consumer. And it's good for my belly, though very bad for my thighs.

Obviously this means I will have to stuff myself beyond recognition on my trips to the UK. However, rather than binging while I'm in England, I would prefer to be able to eat those candies whenever I feel like it. You know, in the spirit of the American way and why our country is supposed to be the best. It's because you can get everything here, not just things that have been altered to be not as good so they don't make our stuff look as bad. Not just things that conform to color schemes and names that couldn't even in the most random stretch imaginable, confuse people into mistaking one for another. But because it's America and we're known for being fat free, so of course we should have our choice of every candy possible.

And what I choose is my choice. Let us choose!

Yours truly,
A fan of free markets, candy and the American way

In my research on this matter, I found I am not alone...

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