So, Tuesday Janice and I took a tour through Seattle Chocolate's outlet store and factory floor. Despite the mental image conjured up by old movies, there were no catwalks over vast vats of molten chocolate. In fact the whole upper level (think observation deck) was so solidly built that even an acrophobiac like myself could look down without too much discomfort towards the various stations in the assembly line below. It was partly education (about cacao and where it's grown nowadays),* partly publicity for their charities and good works, and partly a chance to see their operation at work. I'm happy to say that the conveyer belts were moved at a deliberate speed, not whizzing by (the former being much better for quality control, which is clearly a big issue with them.
We exited through the gift shop, when had less chocolate in it when we left that when we'd arrived.
And this despite, or perhaps because of, their generosity with samples (nine each all told) at various points along the tour.
The biggest surprise was our tour guide's casually mentioning a prediction that cacao wd go extinct in 2020, since deferred to 2040. Some online checking afterwards showed that this was a what if/worst case scenario, combining the threat faced by all monoculture practices: a fungal disease, climate change, &c. It seems unlikely this wd wipe chocolate altogether, but I wdn't be much surprised if it were to shift back to being a luxury product.
The moral: enjoy that chocolate bar while you can.
--current reading: BILLION YEAR SPREE by Aldiss (1973)
*the Ivory Coast currently being the world's biggest producer
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