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Terrorism act stamps out chocolate factory tours

National
ROD MICKLEBURGH
March 25, 2008

VANCOUVER -- Except for crabby parents worried about their kids' dental bills, what could possibly come between children and chocolate?

Step forward the U.S. Bioterrorism Act of 2002.

Thanks to stringent food safety regulations imposed by the Act after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, "choc and awe" public visits to the famous factory operated by Rogers' Chocolates are no more.

The Act applies to Rogers because the venerable company, by now a Canadian institution with its century-old store in downtown Victoria an official National Heritage Site, has a thriving mail-order business shipping individual orders of big fat chocolates to salivating customers in the United States.
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The Globe and Mail

Companies that export food to the United States are required to ensure there is no risk that anyone can tamper with their products, and who knows what a 10-year-old high on sugar might do.

"Our factory had school buses full of kids pulling up all the time. Sometimes seniors, too," Rogers' president Steve Parkhill said yesterday.

"They'd all been going through without the appropriate level of security. We found it just too onerous to take the measures we would have needed in order to comply with the regulations. So we stopped. It is sad, I grant you."

The company's decision ended years of magical mystery tours that had entranced Vancouver Island kids with the up-close view of melting, dripping and pouring of chocolate, not to mention the sweet aroma and fresh samples at the end.

Even though the tours were ended more than a year ago, e-mails asking for group tours of Rogers' factory keep coming in.

"They are very disappointed when we tell them 'no'. Most people seem to enjoy coming through a chocolate factory," said Mr. Parkhill, in a mild understatement.

Late yesterday, however, an official with the U.S. Food and Drug administration said that Rogers' may have raised the security chocolate bar too high.

Many of the food protection measures in the Bioterrorism Act are guidelines only. They are not strict regulations, spokesman Alan Bennett said.

"We issue guidelines and it's up to the companies to decide how to apply them. It's their decision, not ours," Mr. Bennett insisted. "I would encourage them to take another look."

But the risky factory tours aren't the only fallout to hit Rogers' from bioterrorism fears south of the border.

Just a few weeks ago, an FDA inspector halted a box of wrapped Rogers' chocolates at the U.S. border because the ingredients were not printed on the box.

Mr. Parkhill said complying with that condition is tough for Rogers', since most U.S. orders are customized, with buyers asking for four chocolates of one sort, three of another, and so on.

"Tourists come into our Victoria store, have a 'wow' chocolate experience, then want to order some shipped home," he said.

"When you get an assortment like that, you can't list all the ingredients on the outside. So we suddenly got some grief at the border."

This time, however, the suspicious chocolates lived happily ever after, as officials on both sides of the border eventually decided they posed no threat to security and were allowed to pass safely into the mouths of Americans.

Rogers' is a company like no other. More than a hundred years after its founding by Charles "Candy" Rogers in 1885, chocolates continue to be individually wrapped by human beings, rather than machines. And the best-selling product remains the age-old Victoria cream.

Local residents feel part of the Rogers' family. Obituaries often note that the deceased once worked for the company, and business developments are front-page news in the city.

When Rogers' recently tried to launch renovations aimed at expanding its old-style heritage store on Government Street, an enormous outcry erupted. The plan is on hold.

The chocolates are not cheap. They sell at upscale retail outlets across Canada, besides the half dozen or so individual stores Rogers' has in tony areas of Vancouver and Victoria.

"We make our large cream chocolate big enough to be cut into four, but no one seems to want to share them," Mr. Parkhill said. "Our chocolates have a time-tested flavour, from high-quality cocoa, and we have a consistent history of our brand meeting expectations."

Except, perhaps, south of the border.
Thieves Steal Truck With 20 Tons Of Chocolate

AHN - All Headline News
March 26, 2008
Isabelle Duerme

Michigan City, IN (AHN) - Authorities in Indiana reported that a semi-trailer loaded with more than 20 tons of Hershey's chocolate had suddenly disappeared.

The vehicle disappeared 24 hours after driver Daryl Rey parked it at the Gas City truck stop, after picking up the haul near St. Louis. He discovered that the 53-foot trailer, and all the chocolate, were gone when he returned the next morning.

A satellite device used to locate the truck had also been removed from the vehicle, and thrown into a pond, hinting that professionals had been involved in the theft.

"There's so many dishonest people in the world," commented Rey, 53. "It never used to be like this."

Officials from the LaPorte County Police Chief of Detectives were on the case, and officer John Boyd was puzzled as to what the thieves were thinking of doing with all the chocolate, which amounted to 41,000 pounds.

"I don't have any idea," Boyd said, as quoted by the Post-Tribune.

According to the UPI, police surmised that the thieves stole the vehicle not knowing what was actually loaded on it, as the trailer did not bear the name of the chocolate, but the name of the trucking company, Buske Lines.

There was speculation of the thieves planning to sell the vehicle to be sold for scrap, or used for personal means.

Patricia, Rey's wife, said that while her husband was not hurt, he was utterly depressed.

"He's really bummed out," she said.
New Mexico Lottery Serves Up Chocolate-Themed Game

Net Revenues Support Legislative Lottery Scholarships

New Mexico Lottery
March 19, 2008

ALBUQUERQUE – The New Mexico Lottery’s latest Scratcher game looks good enough to eat.

The “$10,000 Hershey’s™ Milk Chocolate*” Scratcher is inspired by the candy manufacturer that produced the first affordable milk chocolate candy bar more than a century ago. The game’s ticket is a replica of Hershey’s® well-recognized chocolate-brown and silver-foil candy wrapper. In the play area, 10 potential winning numbers are concealed under images of Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bars. Available now, the $2 game features top prizes of $10,000.

Until Milton Hershey perfected his milk chocolate recipe in 1900, chocolate was a luxury item. Hershey sold his chocolate bars for 5 cents apiece - a price that didn’t change for 69 years. Today, Hershey sells 4.5 billion candy bars each year.

$344 Million Raised for College Education

The sale of lottery games benefits an in-state college tuition program. Since 1996, the lottery has raised more than $344 million for education and more than 48,000 students have attended college on Legislative Lottery Scholarships. Information about Legislative Lottery Scholarships and student eligibility is available at www.nmlottery.com.

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