Not the synthetic kind. As Joel surveyed the window of the airport chocolatier, his grandmother’s words echoed in his mind. “Please,” she had begged, “please, Joey. Before I die, I want to taste chocolate again.” He had reached for his backpack, where he kept nutri-bars for snacks. She shook her head, raised a trembling hand in protest. “Not the synthetic kind, Joey. Real chocolate, that grew from the earth. Cocoa plants. There should still be some.” Her eyes had watered. “They used to mix it with sugar and cream.” She smiled softly, looking up at her grandson. “Promise me, Joey. Bring me chocolate before I die.”
Joel sighed as he turned away from the display; airport chocolate wouldn’t do. Research had shown him a history that wasn’t taught in school. Decades ago, world governments had decided their citizens didn’t need chocolate. Humanity required sustenance, nutrition, health. As soon as it was clear the Great Famine wouldn’t end without intervention, the Committee for World Nutrition commandeered so-called recreational farms to plant broccoli, beans, beets and other nutrient-rich vegetables. Artificial texture and flavor meant that Joel’s generation grew up believing non-essential foods had always come from the lab. Now, authentic chocolate was grown on micro-farms, processed in secret, and jealously guarded by the confectioners and restaurateurs that served the extremely wealthy. Joel had never tasted it. He had not known it existed until his grandmother asked for some.
In vain, he had called the fanciest restaurants in America, Europe, and Asia. The few that replied emphasized the legality of their sources and refused to send him samples. They claimed it was too expensive, that the chocolate would melt. One even recommended a brand of laboratory chocolate for him to try.Continue reading