The world faces an impending chocolate shortage. Simply put, global demand is rapidly outpacing the capacity of cocoa farmers to produce the good. It’s a troubling state of affairs: The chocolate makers, Mars, Inc. and Barry Callebaut, have warned consumers that all bets will be off by 2020. Meanwhile, researchers in Central Africa are feverishly at work on trees that could produce seven times the amount of beans as a traditional cocoa tree. But even if cocoa’s foremost thought leaders rise to the challenge of the chocolate famine, chocolate will never be the same: Quantity, experts warn, will come at the cost of quality.
It’s a difficult reality to wrap one’s mind around. Like the ocean closing over Manhattan or countrywide droughts, a world where chocolate is entirely rare — or entirely mediocre — is a dystopia the likes of which we can scarcely conceive, no matter how the charts bear it out. The prospect has turned me toward reflection and, more still, that age-old propensity to set down in writing whatever is certain to vanish. So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. etc., etc. What follows here are notes on chocolate, an emotional history, if you will.