Sweet slavery

The Australian
Kerrie Murphy
August 09, 2008

Chocolate’s dirty and often bloody secrets have been exposed.

WE may be able to scoff chocolate faster than is dignified, but few of us could identify a cocoa bean if we saw one. For all we know about chocolate production, the fantasy world depicted in Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory could be an accurate portrait.

The dirty little secret of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is that when it was published in 1964, Willy Wonka’s fictional factory workers were Pygmies, whom he paid in cacao beans and housed on the premises to prevent rival chocolate makers from spying. Criticism of the slavery connotations prompted Dahl to change the employees to the knee-high Oompa-Loompas in subsequent editions. However, as far-fetched — and un-PC — as Dahl’s original manuscript may have been, it contained elements of the truth. The dirty big secret of chocolate, food with an image of seductive luxury, is that pint-sized Africans do make it. It’s just that they’re not Pygmies but children, toiling for people nowhere near as benevolent as Wonka. read more..

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