living underground in the real world

New Yorker White Boys

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Ooh, another opportunity to post a truffle photo – meet Ms. Ginger!

Lots of New Yorker stats coming soon.

I read Bill Buford‘s piece on Dagoba chocolate (10/29/2007 issue) with intense interest. I looked into using Dagoba for my chocolate truffles at one point, but it cost twice as much as most other organic and fair trade chocolates and none of my tasters liked the flavor. I was fascinated to read that the insane owner, Frederick Shilling, unashamedly tailored the flavor to his own taste buds. As I found him appalling, I’m really glad we don’t share the same tongue.

My dealings with the company reminded me all over again why crazy neo-hippies give lefties such a bad name. Since they sold out to Hershey their website has been smartened up, but it used to contain such new agey claptrap that I got hives just looking for the wholesale prices. Now I get hives because it turns out that they were new agey hippie losers of the very worst kind – the ones who sell out at the drop of a hat.

It is throwbacky to believe that selling out in the most old-fashioned sense of the phrase is morally wrong? If so, I still stick with my belief that sell-outs are fuckups, and will take my attendant loss of coolness accordingly.

The story of how Shilling’s girlfriend co-founded the company then got stiffed when she left was completely unsurprising, especially when we learned about Shilling’s Mayan-chocolate-goddess wet dreams. Frederick Shilling just might be the absolutely archetypal neo-hippie asshole dude: On one hand he bows to vague notions of “female power” as exemplified by deities from cultures he believes to be cooler than his own, on the other hand he fucks over every real life woman he comes into contact with.

It reminds me so much of those right wing dudes who are so obsessed with protecting figurative women’s “purity” and holy status in the home as the nurturer-in-chief or whatever that they are actively in favor of outlawing abortion so actual women can bled to death from botched illegal abortions. Or people who care about children so so so much that they want to see many more of them born to parents who can’t afford or don’t want them, though this condemns them to lives of unbelievable poverty and horribleness.

11 Responses to “New Yorker White Boys”

  1. stacey

    I read and enjoy your blog very much and just had to chime in about the Dagoba article and what an ass the founder is. It was disgusitng to read. I don’t even think he pretends to honor women – his whole theory about how the taste of chocolate was like the curves of a woman’s body – GROSS, and really only had to do with his own fantasies and pleasure. What a schmuck. Thanks for speaking up about that.

    Reply
  2. kinnari

    ok you are fucking brilliant!

    i was eating dagoba thinking i was doing some good. but i didn’t know they’d sold out.

    fuck!

    what organic fair trade chocolate do you recommend to a new reader??

    i live in san fran so i adore trader joe’s.

    and i can get some fair trade organic hot chocolate mix there for my kids so that’s good.

    but i haven’t found an org/ft choc bar i really like.

    help!!

    Reply
  3. lagusta

    Heya Kinnari. The sad, sad truth is that there is no organic AND F/T chocolate bar that I like. I personally use a mix of 1/2 organic and 1/2 fair trade Callebaut chocolate for my truffles, but I buy it in 44 lb cases and the organic one is not f/t and vice versa and I am pretty positive they do not sell it in retail bars!

    Because I use gigantic amounts of chocolate, I have not seriously researched retail organic and f/t bars.

    A reader once mentioned this company: http://www.lasiembra.coop/ but I haven’t tried it myself. I also like Art Bars (made by Ithaca Fine Chocolates) but am not sure if they are both organic and f/t.

    I once tried out Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates, from California. They are super nice people and their chocolate is super p.c. – organic and fair trade and everything good. It wasn’t the perfect chocolate for my truffles however…it was a little plasticky. But the company seems awesome, and they make cocoa powder!

    As for chocolate mix, can I let you in on a secret? Just melt chocolate! And add water! It’s my favorite kind of hot chocolate. A tiny amount of mint extract is nice too. I’m not a huge fan of cocoa powder. I think Green & Blacks makes an organic one though?

    Also, I talk about my own Chocolate odyssey here:
    http://www.lagustasluscious.com/truffles.html#ingredients

    A good rule of thumb is that higher-quality chocolates like Scharffen Barger and especially Valhrona tend to treat their workers far better than typical Hersheys crap chocolate companies (though Scharffen Barger is now owned by Hersheys). I’ve had good success talking to company representatives at trade shows (the Scharffen Berger company rep at this year’s NYC Fancy Food Show was very well informed and I had a good talk with him about why their chocolate is not certified fair trade but he feels their standards are just as good or better. He seemed convinced that their parent company wasn’t going to change anything in that area. They used to have a great essay about this on their site, but when they sold out to Hersheys the essay disappeared.)

    Reply
  4. wellspout

    dude:
    pardon my unpunctilious response, but i’m feeling and hearing bitter-sweet backlash toward mr schiller and his dagoba debacle, (only the latest sell-out to corp(ulent) interests), but obviously he is no neo- hippie sir! but rather a venture capitalist par excellance, obsequiously nodding to his chocolate god (“i appreciate culture and religion…”) lol all the way to the bank. indeed, a farce explicated in true new yorker fashion, however to those of us whom have never sold out, it should come as no surprise really, 5 million dollars or so is raison d’etre, n’est pas?

    Reply
  5. MhD

    For the record Art Bars are both organic and fair trade certified… and very tastey. I was stunned to learn that they don’t use any lechithins (sp?); neither soy nor other binding chemicles in their process. Apparently, they do it old schoold by conching (stirring) the chocolate for up to three days — old school. I dare say regardless of their certifications, this is one of the best chocolates on the market today!

    Reply
  6. NickT

    To add to the record, Theo Chocolate in Oregon is also organic and fair trade certified. Most of the chocolate is good, although I have had a couple bars that were a bit over conched. I rather like some of there single origin bars, the Ivory Coast (absolutely fair trade certified) is amazingly flowery.

    Now if you really want to try something new, check out Chocolate Alchemy, also in Oregon. Another “alchemist”, but seems to be quite the different one from Dagoba. The guys there will show you how to make your own chocolate, offer many cocoa beans and pretty cheap (in the scheme of things) machines to make the chocolate. Many of their cocoa beans are organic and or fair trade. Talk about very old school.

    Reply
  7. Josey Willow

    Wow. That really creeps me out. I never really got into Dagoba, but I’ll sure as hell be staying far away now!

    For retail chocolate I LOVE Endangered Species. It has organic available and I really think it’s one of the most ethical chocolate companies out there.

    Reply
  8. lagusta

    Yeah, I like Endangered Species too! They don’t make wholesale chocolate though, alas. Art Bar is the same–love them too. I’ve looked into Theo in the past, I don’t think they make big bars either, but thanks so much for the tips, everyone!!

    Reply
  9. Ruby

    I haven’t had Endangered Species in a while but I used to eat it in college until I realized they always left my mouth feeling waxy and my throat thirsty.

    Reply

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