Sheryl & the Chocolate Factory

Every year, Toronto holds a city-wide festival during the last weekend in May called Doors Open where the public gets to go on free mini-tours of places they might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. Many of these buildings are ones that the public can get into if they have a reason to be there, either because they’re on a paid tour, or because they have business of some sort in the place. Few people have reason or opportunity to wander through a chocolate factory, though, so when the news came out that Cadbury was going to open the doors of its Toronto factory as part of Doors Open, people were excited. Unfortunately, while the concept of Doors Open is a good one, designed to encourage an appreciation for historical and architecturally unique buildings, what we got at the Cadbury’s factory doesn’t really even count as a “tour”.

Now I didn’t go expecting to see Oompa-Loompas. I didn’t expect to be greeted by Johnny Depp in a top hat. I didn’t figure there would be a river of chocolate. But on a “tour” of a chocolate factory, I do kind of expect to see some chocolate getting made.

At least put in a nice plate-glass window so we can watch the bars of chocolate whizzing by.

I understand that, for reasons of safety and sanitation, we shouldn’t have expected to get up close and personal with a running enrober. I didn’t expect to come home with goofy photos of Greg sticking his head in a concher. But I expected more than a one-room “museum” full of old chocolate wrappers, a store, and a 5-minute spiel on “chocology”, the hilight of which was eating a roasted cocoa bean.

We walked in at the end of a “chocology” session where the woman giving the talk was in the process of answering an audience question as to why Cadbury didn’t use Fair Trade chocolate. We didn’t hear the whole response, only a bit about how “it would be unfair to the farmers.” Not sure of the original question, I resisted the urge to shout out about how non-Fair Trade chocolate isn’t really fair to the child slaves that harvest the stuff, but I held my tongue.

We also learned that Cadbury’s signature Dairy Milk chocolate bar, following the footsteps of the folks who make the secret recipe mixture at Kentucky Fried Chicken, is made in two parts, in two separate locations and brought together at a third location so that no one knows the secret ingredient that gives Dairy Milk its special and unique flavour. As Dairy Milk is one of those bars, along with the disgusting Hershey’s Kisses, that tastes and smells of sour, milky, baby puke, I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out the secret ingredient.

The only good point of the tour, other than the cocoa bean, was that 100% of the day’s sales in the on-site store went to charity. So we bought a Malted Milk bar (one of the few mainstream milk chocolate bars I can stomach) and got Greg a super-fresh bag of his favourite wine gums candy.

So much as it was for Augustus Gloop, Veruca Salt et al, the chocolate factory was a disappointment. We were there when the doors opened and waited only about a half hour to get in. I felt bad for the people who were at the end of the line, almost two blocks away, when we came out, where the expected wait time was close to two hours. If I had waited two hours to see some nostalgic candy wrappers, a cocoa bean, a store and some woman who has been so brainwashed by the corporation she works for that she believes Fair Trade to be bad for cocoa farmers, I’d have been not just disappointed, but downright pissed off.