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You Do Not Get Any Candy This Halloween, Sorry

Hey! U.S. readers: Who wants to be that awful neighbor who hands out pennies on Halloween? The one all the kids hate? You do, you do! Unfortunately. Because here’s the problem: due to some, er, choices made by the Hershey Candy Company, you basically cannot buy or eat candy now without accidentally funding the process of FOOLING PEOPLE INTO INDENTURED SERVITUDE. 

“Pleas hellp,” wrote the student, Tudor Ureche. He told them about “the miserable situation in which I’ve found myself cought” since starting a job under the program in a plant packing Hershey’s chocolates near the company’s namesake town in Pennsylvania.

Students like Mr. Ureche, who had paid as much as $6,000 to take part in the program, expected a chance to see the best of this country, to make American friends and sightsee, with a summer job to help finance it all.

Instead, many students who were placed at the packing plant found themselves working grueling night shifts on speeding production lines, repeatedly lifting boxes weighing as much as 60 pounds and financially drained by low pay and unexpected extra costs for housing and transportation. Their complaints to the contractor running the program on behalf of the State Department were met with threats that they could be sent home…

The group, known as Cetusa, placed nearly 400 foreigners from 18 countries, many of them graduate students in medicine, engineering and economics, in physically arduous jobs at the Palmyra factory that were overwhelming for some.

The students, who were earning about $8 an hour, said they were isolated within the plant, rarely finding moments to practice English or socialize with Americans. With little explanation or accounting, the sponsor took steep deductions from their paychecks for housing, transportation and insurance that left many of them too little money to afford the tourist wanderings they had eagerly anticipated.

Program documents and interviews with 15 students show that Cetusa failed to heed many distress signals from students over many months, and responded to some with threats of expulsion from the program.

So: Here are the names you’re looking for, on your wrapper, when you decide not to buy candy. Hershey’s has the right to manufacture and distribute Cadbury-brand products in the US, and has acquired “the Canadian candy and nut operations of Nabisco Brands,” including Breath Savers and Life Savers. It’s also licensed Kit-Kats and Rolos from Nestle. It owns the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut corporation, Scharffen Berger, Joseph Schmidt Confections, and Dagoba Organic Chocolates. Actually look for the brand on the wrapper: It’s not just Hershey Bars and Hershey Kisses that are, um, enslaving people. Aside from the above, it’s all of the following products:

5th Avenue

Almond Joy


Bubble Yum

Good & Plenty

Good & Fruity

Heath Bar

Ice Breakers

Jolly Rancher


Milk Duds


Mr. Goodbar


Oh Henry!

PayDay (HA HA HA HA HA, no seriously, don’t buy ”Pay Day”)

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s Pieces, and the other “Reese’s” products


Snack Barz

Take 5




York Peppermint Pattie



And if I am missing anything, let me know! Blog posts can be amended and corrected! This isn’t the first time Hershey has been boycotted — they’ve also been boycotted on the grounds that they use forced child labor in other countries, too, and some of those are ongoing. But the whole “who wants to come to America to work on their Ph.D.? GREAT, HERE IS YOUR BOX, you will be carrying these, also if you do not want to sleep in the box you will give us money” facet is one I find intriguingly outrage-worthy! So, yes. You will not be buying any candy this Halloween, and you will be giving the children pennies. Or, um, sound advice. About how indentured servitude is wrong, perhaps. Who said social justice wasn’t fun?



  1. Agnes wrote:

    I would like to think that something as delicious as chocolate could not possibly be twisted for evil uses, but apparently, capitalism can make ANYTHING a bad idea!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Permalink
  2. mp wrote:

    As I am reading this, chocolate that’s still on the table includes:

    * Ghirardelli
    * Ritter
    * Your local chocolate shop

    Ghirardelli squares for all?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink
  3. Torvaun wrote:

    Damn, I love Reese’s Pieces. Oh well, looks like it’s time to switch to peanut butter M&Ms.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  4. Michael Leuchtenburg wrote:

    The vast majority of chocolate is produced using slave labor. Ghirardelli cacao is amongst them.

    Go with Green & Black, or Equal Exchange, or Dagoba, or Endangered Species. Or anything with a Fair Trade label on it.

    Your local chocolate shop probably buys chocolate from another producer. Very few chocolate shops make their own chocolate from cacao.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
  5. duck-billed placelot wrote:

    Riesen! Individually wrapped, too. Also, have you guys seen that major US banks infographic that shows how we went from 20-odd major banks to 4 in the last few years? I feel like we need one of those for the candy industry. Aren’t we supposed to have anti-trust laws?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  6. smadin wrote:

    Michael Leuchtenburg:
    from the post,

    [Hershey] owns the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut corporation, Scharffen Berger, Joseph Schmidt Confections, and Dagoba Organic Chocolates. (emphasis mine)

    I believe a Fair Trade label doesn’t tell you anything about the working conditions under which the product may have been finished or further processed once inside the US, and it also doesn’t tell you anything about the labor practices of any sibling brands owned by the same parent corporation — who would thus be indirectly supported by profit from your purchase.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink
  7. Annie wrote:

    I’m pretty sure that hershey no longer produces actual chocolate anyhow. It’s all corn syrup / wax / artificial colors & flavors, maybe with a whiff of cocoa passed over it.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink
  8. Yael Tiferet wrote:

    @Michael Leuchtenberg: What @smadin said. Also, Dagoba is vile.

    Green & Black is quite good and actually has white chocolate that is white chocolate. (Askinosie’s white chocolate, while cruelty free, is what people who love dark chocolate think white chocolate ought to be like. Yuck.)

    Sadly, a lot of fair trade chocolatiers seem to ignore the fact that people who:

    1) can’t eat gluten

    2) do not want the 70! 80! 90! AS DARK AS YOU CAN GET IT! variety of chocolate that tastes exactly like eating a disc of Mexican hot chocolate mix, only grittier (ew)

    actually do exist.

    I will cheerfully take any and all recs for fair trade milk Swiss process chocolate or white chocolate that does not have MAY CONTAIN WHEAT on it as I am never going to be able to eat another Divine white chocolate and strawberry bar as long as I live.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  9. Yael Tiferet wrote:

    Actually there is no need to give the children pennies–there ARE brands of chocolate that aren’t on that list. Dove’s not on there, for one, although they probably do awful things OUTSIDE the USA…

    Though I admit to a touch of schadenfreude that Dagoba is on there because all the dark-chocolate lovers I know keep shoving that shit in my face as they are sure it will convert me, and I think it is well named–it tastes to me like something that Yoda would eat.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  10. LP wrote:

    My local thrift store sells children’s books – 15 for $1! I’m the big nerd who handed those out last year, if you need another Hershey-free idea. I like to pretend that when you buy something thrifted all the bad Karma from however it was created was absorbed by the previous owner – and I’ve never heard about inethical practices in the book making industry anyway?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink
  11. FarmerStina wrote:

    Smadin is correct. Fair-trade only indicates that the raw ingredients, produced overseas, were using fair labor standards. Once in the US, the companies can abuse their workers all they want and still call it free-trade. I know of at least one major fair-trade company in the US that has done some union busting.
    As well, most of the major organic brands are owned by big agrobusinesses that pollute our soils, send all their profits overseas, and lobby for anti-worker bills. Sadly, most chocolate comes with a big heaping side of guilt.
    For who owns what, see here:

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  12. dave glasser wrote:

    TCHO (in SF) and Theo (in Seattle) are two good small makers of tasty chocolate which are fair trade or the equivalent without the label.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  13. Lu wrote:

    It sounds to me from reading the linked article (NYT) that the main problem is with the program itself. Hershey is at fault for exploiting its workers horribly, yes, but the bigger problem is that these students were brought over here via an official, but ill-managed, gov’t program under what they found to be false pretenses and not helped in any way once things started to fall apart. It was a cultural exchange program that apparently used to be considered very good, but things in this country that involve taking care of people–tiny details such as, you know, not treating foreign students as slave labor–apparently there’s no one left around who knows how to do that sort of work.

    I’m not saying this to excuse Hershey, not by any means. (I don’t buy their chocolate ever because of the child-slave issue, and because it’s loaded with dairy, which I don’t eat), but a boycott alone might not really address the root of the problem. Encouraging government scrutiny of Cetusa (writing letters) might do as much.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I had no idea!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink
  14. David Bishop wrote:

    My family doesn’t buy Nestle products either — so their chocolate is out too — How about MARS chocolate?

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
  15. Rich wrote:

    FUCK! Now I can’t enjoy the peanut butter cups I was eyeing. Oh well, I’ll find something else that rots my teeth and puts on pounds. What a bunch of Assholes at Hershey’s!! Boycott!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink
  16. Rich wrote:

    This sounds strangely similar to the New Yorker piece about foreign workers becoming enslaved in Iraq. They were tricked into working for some devious contractor and then were forced to live in shipping containers in the desert. One woman was raped.

    Hershey’s has a lot to answer for now. I’m never buying or eating their products again.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  17. Anathematised wrote:

    Thanks, Sady! I’m determined to ferret out and/or make a less malicious alternative…an ethical sugar buzz for all my neighborhood kids!

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Permalink
  18. ash966 wrote:

    Reading the list, I’m all like, “don’t have bought Pearson’s, don’t have bought Pearsons . . .Yay!” My greatest weakness is Salted Nut Rolls. I associate them with the Midwest, but they list sellers in all 50 USian states:

    Sugar Daddies & Tootsie Rolls seem to be safe, though a bigger company that probably does something evil:

    Fun Fact: nougat is actually honey and egg whites, not something found in a cave by accident like the movie The Stuff.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Permalink
  19. tinfoil hattie wrote:

    Yes – what about Mars products? Milky Way, Snickers, Three Musketeers? I’m gonna go goole.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 12:06 am | Permalink
  20. tinfoil hattie wrote:

    Or maybe even *google*

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 12:06 am | Permalink
  21. rebekah wrote:

    why not sour patch kids? Warheads? jordan’s almonds? what happened to actual candy on halloween? candy bars were not my cup of tea as a child. I wanted actual candy, not chocolate. Things are different now but children (as a general rule) prefer actual candy to chocolate

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 1:03 am | Permalink
  22. Anita wrote:

    Yes, Mars is okay as far as I know. I believe Cadbury would be if not for the Hershey connection.


    (look for article “The 10 Campaign” on page 8)

    Divine chocolate is another option (although it sounds like it may not be gluten-free).

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 1:31 am | Permalink
  23. Anita wrote:

    That’s page eight–it was converted into a smiley face for some reason instead of the actual number.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 1:33 am | Permalink
  24. anya wrote:

    “but children (as a general rule) prefer actual candy to chocolate”

    You hang around in strange circles…

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink
  25. Helen wrote:

    Annie and others – Cadbury and Nestle (you know all about them) are the main chocolate makers in Australia, but for some obscure reason, a service station near me stocks Hershey’s chocolate and Reese’s peanut butter cups. I tried the Hershey’s the other day out of sheer curiosity, and oy, it was horrible stuff. Really awful. Don’t know why Cadbury doesn’t invade the US market.
    The peanut butter cups were interesting, but zomg fatty.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink
  26. Julian Morrison wrote:

    Organize protest bake-ins, bulk-make delicious butter fudge?

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 8:17 am | Permalink
  27. Emmers wrote:

    Anyone know where Trader Joe’s chocolate comes from?

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  28. Michael Leuchtenburg wrote:

    @smadin Whoops, thanks for pointing that out!

    I’m still searching for a chocolate I want to eat which I feel okay about buying. Haven’t found one yet. :(

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  29. SKM wrote:

    If Mars is OK, that means TWIX! My favorites anyway for Halloween–mini Twix.

    While making your own candy etc. in protest may sound like a good idea, the legitimate fear of poisoning and dangerous objects in homemade treats makes them more trouble for parents than they are worth. Unless you have an organized group of friends and only share amongst yourselves.

    When I was a kid we used to collect for UNICEF at Halloween, then come home and make our own treats to swap with friends.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  30. samanthab wrote:

    Here’s a full list of slave labor free chocolate:

    Here’s what the International Labor Rights Forum had to say r.e. Mars,

    “While it is important that Mars is taking a step forward toward sustainable cocoa farming, this recent announcement does not do enough to ensure that workers are not exploited in the company’s global supply chain. We have been calling on chocolate companies to support Fair Trade since 2001 and we encourage Mars, as well as other major US chocolate companies like Hershey, to go further in ensuring that they contribute to higher working and living standards for cocoa farmers.”

    I would prefer myself to support chocolate companies that didn’t need 8 years public outcry to semi-do the right thing.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink
  31. samanthab wrote:

    I just realized that my previous comment could read as kind of judgy. I am not actually in a position to judge chocolate addicts!! It’s just that I’ve had it up to here with evil corporations that only give a fuck when something becomes a marketing liability. It’s hardly unique to Mars, but it’s fucking shitty.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  32. Mary Kuhner wrote:

    The urban folklore site at lists all documented candy-poisoning cases. It is a very short list. There is no particular reason to be concerned about your neighbors poisoning your children. Unfortunately, the hysteria on this topic is widespread and many parents will throw away homemade treats anyway.

    Little boxes of raisins worked for me as a kid. Also pencil toppers, temporary tattoos, and other party favors.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink
  33. KittyWrangler wrote:

    I believe the brand Ritter Sport is ethical as far as being “green” and not employing slave labor. I know nothing about their packaging ethics though. But I ran across the marzipan/dark chocolate bars at a Harris Teeter grocery store in the US. Oh… yum.

    Thursday, October 20, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  34. Lynne wrote:

    Agnes, boycotting a company for immoral practices is good; maligning an entire economic system based upon the freedom to choose because some within that system choose badly, is not.

    Friday, October 21, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  35. Emily Manuel wrote:

    I agree with Agnes – sorry, human misery is just too pervasive in commodity production to be considered an aberration. It’s not just *this* company or companies or this industry, but horrors are perpetuated almost everywhere at some point – whether it be iPads or agriculture, chocolate or oil or diamonds.

    Dehumanising conditions are the inevitable result of capital’s drive to cut labour cuts even at the cost of human safety and dignity, and this is a process inherent in *every* commodity to some extent. There’s always a cost to people somewhere along the line.

    Now maybe there *could* be some kind of decaf capitalism without huge amounts of exploitation if we had a robust enough social democracy worldwide and strong regulations safeguarding workers’ rights, but we very much do not have that now.

    Friday, October 21, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  36. M Dubz wrote:

    I’d like to second Kittywrangler on Ritter Sport. I discovered them in Israel, and they are ALL THE TASTY.

    Friday, October 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  37. Sara wrote:

    From the article, this doesn’t look like it’s Hershey though. It seems like Hershey hired a contractor company for the rush season to have workers on staff to work in their warehouse. I’ve worked in a warehouse: it’s tough and definitely not for everyone. If anything, this non-profit should have its funding yanked and allow another non-profit to administer the program. I think if you want to get to to infection, cetusa is where it’s at.

    As an aside, I feel like this isn’t the only time that a government agency mistreated well-intentioned people. I can’t tell you how many times I saw Peace Corps volunteers mistreated or abused with no recourse.

    Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  38. SKM wrote:

    There is no particular reason to be concerned about your neighbors poisoning your children.

    When my big sister was two, a nice little old lady in the park gave her an oatmeal cookie with a razor blade baked into it. Rare does not mean nonexistent. The bottom line, though, is that kids won’t get your homemade treats because parents will throw them away if they are from strangers, regardless of whether one thinks that is reasonable or not.

    Saturday, October 22, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  39. Victoria wrote:

    Yes, do buy Endangered Species! It’s made in my town and I’ve met the owners, who seem to be good people (and also support local arts avidly).

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 12:20 am | Permalink
  40. Silver Bowen wrote:

    A suggestion: Buy nothing new that you can trade for or buy used. Seriously. Obviously food can’t be bought used, but barter is possible. All consumer goods can be bought used, either person to person (craigslist) or at thrift stores. Used goods profit only the sellers, not the producers (immediately, anyway.)

    Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink
  41. Spiffy McBang wrote:

    @Rebekah: That’s what I was thinking. Smarties are the shit. And Pixy Stix. This is an excellent opportunity to re-introduce people to the wondrous quality of straight up sugar rushes.

    Monday, October 24, 2011 at 4:46 am | Permalink
  42. tinfoil hattie wrote:

    @Silver Bowen, good idea. I also recommend as a way to recycle goods you no longer want, and to obtain goods you need!

    Monday, October 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink
  43. Angie wrote:

    Well fuckitall I love Twizzlers. *crying

    Monday, October 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  44. k wrote:

    @Lu, that’s what I was thinking too. Obviously Hershey’s should be boycotted, but WHAT THE FUCK is the State Department doing, administering this incredibly exploitative program?

    Here’s a petition to shut down Cetusa:

    And here’s a contact page for those Cetusa jackasses:

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 7:29 am | Permalink
  45. PrivilegeBingo wrote:

    I’mma still pass out candy ’cause I already bought it, but I’ll sign petitions and not buy again.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  46. Jenny wrote:

    Rainforest Allianc chocolate is one to avoid too:
    Ah well, I intend to pass out peanut butter mary janes and tootsie pops anyway.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  47. Pteryxx wrote:

    “I tried the Hershey’s the other day out of sheer curiosity, and oy, it was horrible stuff. Really awful. Don’t know why Cadbury doesn’t invade the US market.”

    Hershey owns the Cadbury licence in the US, so Cadbury products are not fairtrade here.

    Re homemade treats: I’ve handed out homemade cookies wrapped in bundles and tagged with “Made by:” my name and address. They’re at my door, they already know where I live, eh?

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink
  48. Kerry wrote:

    I’ve known about Hershey’s unethical practices for a little while now, and I studiously avoid buying their chocolate now. (It helps that I don’t like most of what they make, although it’s going to be a bit difficult to give up Reese’s, unfortunately.)

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Permalink
  49. Keira wrote:

    Sadly, this is all not to mention the fact that the vast majority of cocoa is produces with slave labour, child labour and/or indentured, low paid labour.

    If it doesn’t have the fair trade logo, someone is getting a shitty deal.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  50. Pretty terrifying stuff. I hope the New England Confectionery Company isn’t abducting anyone into forced servitude to make my precious NECCO Wafers, or else I’ll have to *gulp* start eating healthy or something!

    Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 1:09 am | Permalink
  51. calioak wrote:

    Lifesavers, jollyranchers and gummies are nowhere on that list

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 1:49 am | Permalink
  52. calioak wrote:

    nghaag lifesavers is on the list

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 1:51 am | Permalink
  53. Alcor wrote:

    Whoo, Mars! I can still eat my Milky Way bar!

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink
  54. Not Heath! Not Heath! Does that include the ICE CREAM too????


    Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink