Starbucks and chocolate
So, it seems that Starbucks will be going into partnership with Hershey's to bring more chocolate-based items to their stores. One of the first products emerging form the partnership will be a hot chocolate drink. Considering my reaction to Starbuck's first attempt at a chocolate drink, I'm not too sanguine about the prospect of getting something that will qualify for being a good chocolate drink.
However, even putting the quality of the purported drink aside, I'm not quite sure whether to be happy or sad about the popularization of chocolate these days. Considering the fact that cacao grows in a limited set of environmental conditions, and that the hardiest varieties of cacao tend to be the ones with lesser flavors, it's looking like we are in for a glut of mediocre cocoa beans because those are the ones who can withstand the demand.
Also, the bigger question about what such increased demand would do to the several poor and/or war-torn regions where most of the cacao is grown, remains. I wish I had enough confidence in the human race to say that increased demand for cocoa will cause less dissension and encourage peace so that everyone in the cocoa-growing regions will prosper. However, it seems more likely that increased demand will cause more repression and feed war more than any of the poor farmers growing the cacoa (like it supposedly did in the Ivory Coast).