The Chocolate War

I use it. You use it. We all use it. And America’s determined to keep the price down.

Chocolate has been a part of our world since around the time of the industrial revolution, powering our housewives and motivating our children. It’s become irreversibly entwined with our daily lives – but some liberal groups believe the price we’re paying to keep the cost down is too high.

“America runs on chocolate,” explains campaigner Jim Rush over a cappuccino and bagels. “But nobody really understands the political agendas that shape and control the market. They look at a Hershey bar and all they see is chocolate and wrapper – but actually, they’re seeing war.”

In 1991, the Gulf War came to a tentative close. Rather than pay for it itself, the American government decided to bill Belgium for much of its cost; a debt that it would happily accept chocolate payments for. This kept the price down until earlier this decade, when it finally started creeping towards its fair trade value.

“It was horrible,” expunges housewife Marcia Van Truman, who uses chocolate on a day to day basis. “I thought to myself, ‘Marcia, you’d better get over it – your livelihood is gone for good.’ I actually cried into my bologna sandwich.”

President Bush, who has some really good drinking buds in the chocolate industry, was driven to action. Famously, he flew two planes at the World Trade Centre, another one at the Pentagon, and one originally headed for uptight comedian Drew Carey’s house in Los Angeles. “I was really pissed,” he now admits. “Spitting mad.”

The next morning, when the hangover wore off and an advisor told him what he’d done, he was visibly shaken. Moments later, he was whisked out of the classroom of schoolchildren he was vetting, and flung into a crisis meeting: “I looked him in the eye,” an anonymous advisor told us, “and explained he was going to have to find a scapegoat. A really good one. Maybe with horns, if he could manage it.”

Eventually, they settled on already-dead terminally ill fundamentalist nutcase Osama Bin Laden. Remembering that Afghanistan had a fundamentalist nutcase government (which they’d installed a few years ago), and that the confectionary in that country was “swell”, they bombed the shit out of it for the rest of the year, installed a new government, billed them for it and asked to be paid back in the sweet stuff.

“Heh,” Bush says, when I explain what happened. “Cool.” He nibbles into a Kit Kat, eating the chocolate first and then gobbling the wafer in one. The price of his treat remains unchanged.

Back in the coffee shop, Jim Rush dips his bagel into his coffee, lets the foam drip off onto his upper lip and then licks it off with a satisfying swoosh. “It’s war,” he reiterates, “and the people out there need to know what’s happening.”

“Iraq’s next,” he warns, reaching for biscotti. “And then who knows which country will follow? It could be Britain. Sweden. Portugal. Or maybe just Afghanistan and Iraq again.”

Who knows indeed. And in a world greased by chocolate, can we afford to do otherwise?

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