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Thoughtless Chocolate

Thoughtless Chocolate

Hello and good day!

Once a little brother, always a little brother.

"Hey bro. You got anything to eat?" I asked.

This is a question that I constantly ask my brother when we are both in the office together.

"Yeah, bro. Help yourself to whatever is in the fridge," said Brian.

My brother is 14 years older than me.

We have the same mom and different dads.

Brian was born back when our mom was only 22 years old.

She and Brian's father divorced when Brian was just 2.

I came along when mom was already in her late thirties.

When you have a brother who is 14 years older than you, it is kind of like having a second dad.

You aren't contemporaries in any meaningful way until you are both adults.

My brother babysat me a lot during my early years, until he turned 18 and moved out to join the Army.

When you are babysitting a little kid, you have to feed them.

If there is one thing that all little kids, all over the world, have in common, it is their love of snacks.

And I was no exception.

"Bubba, bubba. Can you give me a snack?" I used to ask.

I couldn't pronounce the word "brother", so I called him "bubba" for a long time.

"Ok kid. I'll get you something."

Then he'd put a French bread pizza in the oven for us to share, or if we were in the street, he'd stop in a liquor store and buy me a bag of chips.

I grew accustomed to this feature of our relationship and old habits die hard.

Years of conditioning kick in when I see Brian and my mouth begins to water.

He unintentionally reinforces this behavior (at least I think it is unintentional) because he almost always has grub to share with me anytime I see him.

Yesterday, I spied several bars of chocolate on top of our office fridge.

I saw that they had been marked down in price with a grocery store clearance sticker.

We rarely eat any chocolate other than our own, and if we aren't eating our own chocolate, there are only a handful of other companies who we buy from.

One is Ritual Chocolate out of Park City, Utah.

Another is Fruition Chocolate, out of Woodstock, New York.

I can't remember the last time we bought chocolate from the grocery store, and frankly, I was a bit perturbed by having those bars in such close proximity to my desk.

I stormed into Brian's office and spoke to him in an accusatory tone.

"Bro, what's the deal with the chocolate bars on top of the fridge? What are they doing there?" I asked. Brian kept his cool.

"Since they were on sale, I thought it would be interesting to see how they taste. Maybe grocery store chocolate is getting better," he said.

"No way. It's probably getting worse," I conjectured.

It didn't make sense to go back and forth defending purely speculative viewpoints, so we decided break open the chocolate bars and give them a taste.

We had three bars to sample.

The first was a sea salt & caramel milk chocolate bar.

The second was a lemon infused high cacao percentage milk chocolate bar.

The third was a 70% dark chocolate bar.

In truth, none could be called bad.

They weren't disgusting or wretched or anything like that.

They were made with cacao and sugar and oil and vanilla.

You are on safe ground with sugar and oil and vanilla.

If you mix sugar and oil and vanilla in with just about anything, it is going to taste passably good. The problem with these bars, though, is that they don't deliver on what you think you are getting.

You wait and wait for an intense, rich, delicious, cacao and chocolate flavor to make an appearance, but it never shows up.

And it is very clear exactly what the issue is.

The cacao isn't good enough.

The genetic variety lacks inherent flavor, and the post-harvest processing didn't fully develop what potential flavor there was.

I sometimes take for granted how important good cacao is to chocolate, because for the last 15 years, I have mostly eaten chocolate made with one of the most delicious varieties, processed under world class conditions.

One of my favorite books of all time is Wooden on Leadership.

There is a passage in that book in which Coach Wooden discusses talent.

The crux of what he says is that top talent, well coached, and well developed, will win championships.

Poor talent, well coached, gives the coach and his team a reason to hold their heads up, because the team achieved their highest potential, even if they didn't win a lot of games.

Top talent, poorly coached, might win a lot of games, but it is still a waste, and nothing to be proud of, because they didn't reach their potential.

And finally, poor talent, poor coaching, and poor effort, dooms you to failure.

These bars that we ate were poor talent, poorly developed.

But because the packaging was nice, and there were loads of vanilla, oil, and sugar, it was as if the team had nice uniforms, and played in a modern gym.

Here is a philosophical question to consider.

If you had to choose a sports team to root for, which of the four above would you choose?

Naturally, everybody loves a winner, and we'd all love to back a team with great players and a great coach.

The next tier down is tougher though.

Do you take the team with gifted players who are lazy and whose coach only demands a half effort?

Or do you go for the scrappy team who doesn't win a lot but always gives it their all?

I don't know about you, but I'd choose the latter.

Almost none of us would happily support a team with poor players and a derelict coach.

We might do it if they were the only team in town, but we wouldn't be happy about it.

Chocolate, and all products really, are manufactured by organizations.

The products that an organization produces are a reflection of the company's values.

And it just doesn't seem right or fair that shoppers would spend their hard-earned money supporting a team that obviously doesn't care.

Consider this a request, and a plea, from your old friend Adam to please spend your money with companies who actually care about their reason for existence.

This is why I was instinctively perturbed when I saw the chocolate bars on our fridge.

I'd rather donate money to a worthy charity than spend it with a company that produces thoughtless and meaningless chocolate.

Thanks for letting me get on my high horse a bit today.

That chocolate really rubbed me the wrong way.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!


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