Guilt-Free Consumerism

This Email Won’t Melt
May 21, 2021

I’m going to admit that I don’t know a heck of a lot about chocolate. But what little I do know is that, generally, American chocolate tastes bad, and that chocolate as an industry is anything but sweet. With the world’s biggest suppliers (Mars, Nestle, Mondelez, and Hershey) facing a lawsuit in the U.S. for child slavery, the confection has done a lot to earn the title of “guilty pleasure” — and that’s not just becomes some have a genetic predisposition to thinking that Hershey’s chocolate smells like sick.

Our relationship with the cacao-based treat is complicated because of our earliest memories with it. “We form our habits and our relationship with chocolate as kids,” says Bar and Cocoa founder Pashmina Lalchandani. “Something like coffee and beer, we don't form those habits until we're adults. So there's not this long memory of that flavor and relationship to it.” According to Pashmina, this is part of why the craft chocolate industry has had such a slow start in the West. The slow but steady growth of the market over the past decade has done little to make a dent in the global chocolate trade, which still utilizes child labor. According to Lalchandani, to date, there are an estimated 2 million children enslaved in the global chocolate trade. 

But there’s a bright spot. The past 5 years have seen explosive growth in “bean to bar” chocolate, with hundreds of craft producers producing bars at the place of origin. These businesses by nature are BIPOC-founded, and represent better opportunities and outcomes for the laborers involved. 

Bar and Cocoa feature these brands prominently in their fast-growing store, which has seen exponential growth since the start of the pandemic. Their focus on sustainability, and profitability, have allowed them to give visibility to brands not found in mass market and grocery. We sat down with founder Pashmina Lalchandani to talk about the growth of their online retail brand, and how she’s building for an equitable future in an industry that has historically been anything but equitable. You can hear more about their story on this week’s episode of the Future Commerce podcast.

— Phillip


Robloxcore. We were due for a new chaotic music cycle. In the same week that Roblox has scrubbed any mention of the word “game” from its site (it’s, ahem, an experience engine now), we learn that the kids are keeping off our lawns by finding creative ways to bypass profanity and trademark filters on the popular gam— er, experience platform. By chopping, re-pitching, and layering, self-described Roblox “audiomakers” are inventing a new genre of music. Our question — will you be able to disturb the luxe-tranquility of the forthcoming Gucci Garden?

Shops on Shops on Shops. “I heard you like shopping,” I can almost hear Xzibit say. Poshmark announced Poshmark Mini, a store-in-store experience for Snapchat. The resale platform will (re?)marry commerce and content by providing quick and easy purchase in the social platform. Don’t know anyone who uses Snap anymore? Then you must be pretty old.

Let’s talk about bacne. Rebecca Zhou and Annie Kreighbaum launch Soft Services, a skincare company which tackles the under-addressed issues we all face. “Dedicated to the pursuit of backless tops,” their skin products focus on the body rather than the face, and their site provides resources and tools through their mass index.

Just hold on, faux chicken, we’re going home. Daring Foods, who brought their plant-based chicken to market last year, has raised $40M. Included this round of investors is vegetarian and rapper, Drake.

The best water on earth. GEN Z Water debuts their “flavorless transparent liquid” in an effort to cross generational gaps through hydration. Their website (which might have been built in 1996) showcases early internet chaos at its finest, and their fully recyclable aluminum bottles feature a naked mole rat, and much, much more. Watch the video in the article link for fastest context.

Full Metal Fido

Full Metal Fido. Nature is healing and the symbol of our nation is making a comeback. No longer endangered, the Bald Eagle is feeling revived—and hungry. Pets, including the pet of our very own Brian Lange, are being snatched up by the predatory bird. Some owners in Anchorage are getting creative and trying to protect their pups with spiky Kevlar jackets to ward off the raptor.

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