I'm not the only one who was shocked and dismayed at the recent news that top chocolate companies are taking the cocoa butter out of chocolate, and replacing it with…yuck....vegetable oil!
It's being driven by cost, of course, and Hershey is one of the candy makers that thought changing ingredients to reduce cost would be better than reducing the size or increasing the price of candy. Problem is, it's the cocoa butter that gives chocolate that smooth, melts-in-your-mouth taste and texture. Unless you are aware of the switch and read the ingredients, you might find yourself eating not chocolate but something that is "made with chocolate" or is "chocolate candy" or "chocolatey." And wondering why it doesn't taste as good as it used to.
For now, at least, Hershey Kisses, peanut butter cups, and some other chocolate products have cocoa butter. But other candy now has palm, shea, sunflower, or safflower oil instead, and many people feel the taste has suffered. Of course, the candy makers are not advertising the change or labeling the candy to draw attention; you have to read the ingredients. (There's little difference in calories or fat content, but cocoa butter is actually healthier than the oils replacing it. Cocoa butter doesn't raise cholesterol levels, and it protects chocolate's antioxidant properties.) If the list doesn't include cocoa butter, it's not chocolate.
In 2007 some industry groups tried lobbying the FDA to change the definition of chocolate to allow replacing cocoa butter. They ran into a firestorm of chocolate lovers who swamped the FDA with letters and effectively put an end to the industry end-run. Hooray for the power of the people!
What does this have to do with real estate? Whatever you are selling – whether chocolate or condos – people want the genuine article. They want to know that you are who you say you are, that you are being completely honest with them, and that they can rely on you to deliver what you promise. It can be tempting to cut corners when things get tight, but that's exactly when people need us to be open and professional. It never pays to try to fool someone into buying a sub-standard product. So I won't mess with my sellers and buyers, and I won't let anyone mess with my chocolate!