Bernard Pacyniak
Candy Industry

getting fresh: Staying vigilant

When I saw the headline, “Overeating Survey: Chocolate May Be a Gateway Drug,” I knew the article required further reading. To summarize, the press release details a survey conducted by Sharon Livingston, a consultant to the weight-loss industry who has a degree in humanistic psychology.
According to Livingston, of the 2,400 people polled, 54.2% of those who had trouble resisting chocolate were more likely to have trouble with at least nine other foods. As the learned psychologist points out, “Participants who couldn’t resist chocolate were MUCH (Capital letters are her emphasis) more likely to report a multitude of food difficulties.”
She then goes on to elaborate that this was particularly true for women over the age of 40 or for those who lived alone.
I don’t want to make light of people who have food disorders; there’s nothing funny about not being able to control caloric intake. But to pinpoint chocolate as a “gateway drug” to overeating is sensational headline writing at its worst.
At the risk of sounding disco, “Let’s get real!” Is chocolate addictive? I hope so. Is it a “gateway drug” to overeating? No. Last time I checked you didn’t need a prescription for it. And, yes, it has a standard of identity, which is a good thing.
Is it a gateway to overeating? I suppose anything can precipitate overeating. But I just don’t see anyone enjoying a piece of chocolate as opening the flood gates to a Monty Python experience, i.e. as in Mr. Creosote exploding in the “Meaning of Life.”
Do folks seek out chocolate because it makes them feel better? Yes, but so does chicken soup!
How many more food nannies do we need? There’s something called personal responsibility. Is coffee served hot? Yes, I would hope so. Be careful. If it spills, you may burn yourself.
Does chocolate contain sugar? Certainly, but it depends on the kind you purchase. Is it bad for you? Actually, it can be good for you, containing a good dose of antioxidants, which help the body. Will it make you obese? NO! I don’t often use capital letters for emphasis since it really irks me. But Livingston’s survey and use of capitalization prompted me to do so.
I’ll stop with the capitalization, but there was another headline that caught my eye and prompted a similar response, “Chocolate + Child Labor Do Not Make for a Holiday.”
In this instance, Greenamericatoday called out Hershey for it’s “I Love Reese’s Day” promotion, saying that “the marriage of chocolate and peanut butter is hardly reason to celebrate when Hershey’s sources chocolate from western Africa, where some of the poorest cocoa plantations are plagued with forced and child labor.”
The press release cites three sources, one of them being Tulane University’s Payson Center for International Development, the U.S. Department of Labor and a 2008 Fortune magazine article. What bothers me is that by linking a harmless Reese’s promotion to child labor really trivializes the seriousness of forced child labor in West Africa and other countries. Second, it downplays the ongoing efforts of the International Cocoa Initiative.
Having been to Ghana, which often is cited by many observers as one of the most progressive and stable nations involved in cocoa, I know that child labor issues remain. There are cultural, economic and infrastructure challenges making instant eradication of child labor incidents impossible.
Nevertheless, from what I saw, there’s a bona fide push to wipe this scourge from the country. And let’s not forget that there’s been a civil war in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast); thus, making headway into this issue extremely difficult. People will do just about anything to survive when there are trigger-happy militias running to and fro.
As for Hershey, specifically, when I was in Ghana several years ago, I had the pleasure of getting to know John Long, one of Hershey’s representatives on trip. If there was anyone more earnest than Long about doing what’s right to improve the lot of cocoa farmers as well as their families and children, it was him.
Obviously, there’s more work to do on this. Abuses of children in cocoa-growing areas continue. But at least the chocolate and cocoa industries have made great strides in defining the extent of the problem and addressing it on a nation-by-nation approach.
Badmouthing a chocolate promotion to simply bring attention to child labor and then plugging Fair Trade chocolates as an alternative doesn’t promote good dialogue or progress in this matter.
So to all of you sourcing, producing and selling chocolate, I urge you to be vigilant. There are many groups out there that have hidden agendas and no qualms of using chocolate as road kill.

Anthony-Thomas Candy Co. mourns loss of family member

Agnes Squeo Zanetos, wife of Tom Zanetos, co-founder and owner of the Anthony-Thomas Candy Co., of Upper Arlington, Ohio, passed away on Saturday, May 15, after suffering a stroke in September. She was 89.
Agnes and Tom were high school sweethearts who worked together in the confectionery business for some 47 years. She started out as a candy dipper, then worked in the retail store and had secretarial duties as her husband and father-in-law, Anthony Zanetos, built their new business. Agnes later served as an officer of the company, secretary-treasurer, retiring from that position in 2001 at the age of 80.
 Agnes was a member of the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Philoptochos Society and Daughters of Penelope. She also was a member and served on the advisory board of the Christopher Columbus Education Foundation and received the Christopher Columbus Educational Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Agnes is survived by her husband of 68 years; four sons: Anthony, of Hilliard, Joseph (Carol), of Upper Arlington, Gregory, of Columbus, and Timothy, of Dublin. She also is survived by four grandchildren: Carla (Steve) Scully, Candi (Michael) Trifelos, Thomas and Michael Zanetos; seven great-grandchildren, John, Sam, Joseph and Michael Scully, and Nicholas, Mark and Alex Trifelos; sisters-in-law, Kathryn Squeo, Beulah (Jack) Trotter, Frankie Collaros of Steubenville, and Nicki Zanetos of Delaware; as well as many aunts, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers Joseph Squeo and Jean (Louella) Cupoli.
Services were held on Monday and Tuesday, May 17 and 18. Condolences may be sent via

Mars partners with 'Diddy' to announce America's favorite M&M

For the past month, visitors to have been casting votes for their favorite M&M’S character – Red, Yellow, Orange, Blue or Ms. Green. Now, Mars chocolate North America, Hackettstown, N.J., has announced a new partnership that gives consumers another reason to participate in the chocolatey election.
To celebrate the character voted America’s favorite, music superstar and business mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs will produce a special M&M’S Color Party in New York City. This will be the first time consumers will be able to choose the color of one of Diddy’s legendary events. One lucky voter and 20 friends will get to attend per the “Party Like Diddy Sweepstakes.” The winner also will get to meet with Diddy in advance to help plan his first-ever Red or Green or Yellow or Orange or Blue Party.
“This year, I’m touring North America and Europe to promote my new album, “Last Train to Paris,” so, unfortunately, I can’t throw my annual White Party,” Diddy says. “But I wanted to make sure there was at least one colorful affair on the calendar this summer, so I’ll be producing the M&M’S Color Party, in honor of America’s favorite M&M’S character.”

Eligible U.S. residents can enter for their chance to win the M&M’S Color Party produced by Diddy by registering for the “Party Like Diddy Sweepstakes” at, now through July 6. In addition to the once-in-a-lifetime party experience, the winner will receive travel and accommodations for him or herself and a guest to meet with Diddy as well as travel and accommodations for 20 of their friends for the party.
Fans also can register to win other amazing prizes, including a $50,000 cash prize, a special M&M’S branded guitar and a $25 M&M’S Discover debit card.
For more, visit or

Butterfinger & G4 search for fourth member of BFDL

Butterfinger has partnered with the G4 TV network to announce a search for the fourth member of the Butterfinger Defense League (BFDL). Two semifinalists will meet current members of the BFDL – Erik Estrada (“CHiPS”), Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”) and Charisma Carpenter (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”) – and G4’s “Attack of the Show!” hosts Olivia Munn and Kevin Pereira at Comic-Con in July, when G4 will broadcast the winner live.
Butterfinger is looking for those who best demonstrate an ability to ensure the Butterfinger tagline “Nobody’s Gonna Lay A Finger On My Butterfinger!” Audition videos must show a unique ability that would make the candidate a great defender of Butterfinger and, thus, a perfect fit for the BFDL.
Two finalists will win a VIP trip to Comic-Con in San Diego, where one will be named honorary member of the BFDL and receive the $20,000 grand prize. Entries are being accepted through June 24. 
To learn more, visit

Blommer announces cocoa sustainability partnership for Ivory Coast farmers

East Greenville, Pa.-based Blommer Chocolate, North America’s largest processor of cocoa beans and ingredient chocolate products, today announced a new $3-million cocoa sustainability partnership supporting farmers in the Ivory Coast. The joint venture, called the Processors Alliance for Cocoa Traceability and Sustainability (PACTS), is being developed in conjunction with Cemoi Chocolatier of France and Petra Foods of Southeast Asia.
The PACTS mission is to improve the supply of high quality, fermented cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast while improving the livelihoods of the local cocoa farming community. The program was introduced today at the World Cocoa Foundation meeting in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
The PACTS program trains farmers in modern techniques and provides them with skills to improve crop yield and quality, and to give them a better understanding of the marketplace. The program focuses on the establishment of fermentation centers that help the farmer improve post-harvest processing and improve bean quality. The fermentation centers also act as a hub from which farmers can improve their agronomy skills and understanding, with a goal of increasing crop yields and, ultimately, farmer incomes.
Over a three-year period, the joint venture will establish up to 30 fermentation centers that will support approximately 10,000 farmers. It is expected that the program will expand as the cocoa farming community reaps the benefits of better prices and consistent, high-quality crops. The Ivory Coast is the largest cocoa producing country in the world and approximately 90 percent of its cocoa is grown on small family farms.
For more information about Blommer, visit

Sweet of the week: Breath Mints with Antioxidants

Suntak-Pharma Manufacturing Co., Ltd. of Guangdong, China, has launched sugar-free Breath Mints with Antioxidants. The compressed tablet mints are available in black currant flavor and contain Vitamins A, C and E, bilberry extracts, selenium and zinc.
For more information, call +86-13923989797 or visit