It’s not every day that someone charges themselves with a crime, but that’s exactly what the founder of a chocolate company that’s just starting to get distribution throughout the US did. You may have seen their packaging popping up in the candy aisle: bright oranges and blues with massive text saying TONY’s real big on it. But if you happened to try it out, before you even take a bite you’ll know it isn’t an ordinary bar of chocolate.
Tony’s Chocolonely makes it clear inside its packaging that this company exists for one sole reason: to end modern slavery in the cocoa industry. It was started by a Dutch journalist named Tony who charged himself with the crime of being complicit in slavery simply by being a consumer of chocolate. Somehow he actually got in front of a judge in the Netherlands and brought former child slaves from West Africa to testify against him and against the not-so-sweet side of the chocolate industry.
Tony may not have been convicted of a crime, but he did leave the courtroom with a conviction to try to end this dark practice by starting his own chocolate company that would try to guarantee that only free and fair labor was used to make his chocolate bars.
And, as you’ll hear in this interview, his company, Tony’s Chocolonely, went from zero to the #1 chocolate bar in the Netherlands. And in 2015, the company started in the US too, offering slavery-free chocolate that’s quickly gaining popularity among Americans.
We’re fortunate to have the US manager of Tony’s with us on the show, Michelle Wald, who’s a wealth of information not just about the problems in the cocoa industry, but about how businesses can be a part of the solution.
Discussed in this interview