The Dutch confectionery company, Tony’s Chocolonely, is causing a stir again, shortly after their badly received advent calendar stunt that had a missing chocolate.

This time the ethically motivated chocolate makers have teamed up with UK supermarket Waitrose to release their latest range of flavours, and while there’s nothing extraordinary about the ingredients, the names they’ve been given might raise a few eyebrows.

The aptly named ‘Conversation Bars’ come in 3 distinct flavours: Injustice, Inequality, and Inhuman.

Upon closer inspection, the bars are made up of fairly standard ingredients. ‘Injustice’ is a white chocolate bar with raspberry biscuit bits. ‘Inequality’ is milk chocolate containing caramel, almonds, nougat, pretzels and sea salt. Finally, ‘Inhuman’ is a vegan dark chocolate bar with lemony caramel and cocoa biscuit.

Ingredient-wise, the new bars could be a hit with consumers, but why the unsavoury names?

The brand explained their choice. “What’s with all the serious words? So glad you asked. Our Conversation Bars are made to get you talking. Three new flavours in stripped-back wrappers…but why? The issues of injustice, inequality and lack of humanity exist in the chocolate industry.”

Our Conversation Bars are made to get you talking

“That’s what results in illegal child labour and modern slavery.”

They went on to say, “We think change begins with conversation. Research shows that contact and dialogue with people outside your bubble, increases empathy, which leads to a shift in attitudes and behaviour.”

Unfortunately for Tony’s, it seems the conversations they are starting are on the appropriateness of moral preaching rather than on the topics of ethicality they wish to discuss.

While there has been a mixed response, some common themes are apparent. As always, supporters of the brand chimed in to applaud the Dutch company and retail partner for their bold move.

One consumer commented, “Great way to make people aware of the issues surrounding chocolate love.”

Another was a little more sarcastic in their response. “These flavours sound amazing! But more importantly, I can’t wait to have the important conversations.”

Several people commented that they enjoyed the new flavours, with no regard for the message.

But there were also those who called out the company’s move as a gimmick to maintain a caring and ethical facade without inciting any real change.

One reviewer stated. “Change begins when you employ a diverse team, as opposed to a bunch of white people, who profit from preaching (check company team website for yourselves). Your values are phoney at best, and yet you think you’re the almighty in the chocolate industry. I am very disappointed that Waitrose is giving them a platform.”

Waitrose evidently has not been exempt from the scrutiny, with one person stating, “I am very disappointed that Waitrose is giving you a platform to patronise its customers.” Another comment, this time on Waitrose’s Instagram post, suggested they, “Stop stocking Nestle chocolate, and really challenge inequality, injustice, and inhumanity.”

Lastly, there are others who seem simply confused.

“I have absolutely no idea what this is all about. What is the connection between chocolate and the 3 things mentioned?”

From the feedback, it appears that many of the company’s customers don’t want negative messaging when they indulge in chocolate, while others appear simply confused by the stunts.

One comment in particular summed up Tony’s struggle with messaging. They stated. “I dunno, I just wanna eat chocolate, not start a debate.”

Tony’s wants to start a conversation about the injustices behind the chocolate industry. However, the audience they are trying to reach are those who are perhaps unaware of the issues. But this demographic does not seem to respond well to negative messaging.

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