Exciting news, candy lover! Your Kit Kat will now contain sucrose molecules from Latin America instead of Minnesota.
That's right, an anti-GMO group has been hard at work, fighting for your right to eat a new peanut butter cup that is exactly like the old peanut butter cup. For two years, they unleashed a cabal of angry Facebookers and Tweeters to tell Hershey's that they better "Break up with GMOs" or else! And break up Hershey's did, meaning they're dumping American sugar in favor of imported sugar.
For decades, some Hershey's candy has been made with sugar derived from a sugar beet. The sugar is the same as cane sugar, meaning it's just sucrose, however the beet itself is grown from a seed that is considered a "GMO" so people who are scared of GMOs/sell organic stuff had to go on the attack and bully companies like Hershey's to stop using it.
Hershey's decided to cave to their demands even though it's doubtful that the people blowing up the Hershey Twitter account would ever actually eat their candy since Trader Joe's probably doesn't carry it. It's also doubtful that a bunch of moms were all that fired up about what sweetens an Almond Joy. Moms aren't exactly looking to candy bars for nutrition.
It's fun to imagine the meeting where the candy executives try to figure out how to handle the pressure. After all, they acknowledge that GMOs are perfectly safe so it must have been a tough decision to jilt American farmers.
According to Hershey's spokesman, Jeff Beckman:
"As a consumer-centric company, we listen to our consumers and work to respond to their interests and expectations." And even though he acknowledges genetically modified ingredients are safe, Beckman says that "non-GM ingredients is[sic] something our consumers are telling us is important to them."
Hershey's Very Important Meeting
Social Media Guy: Y'all, I'm getting a bunch of all-caps tweets telling me we have to break up with our sugar.
*laughter and dirty jokes*
Social Media Guy: No, really. My push notifications are stressing me out.
Marketing Guy: *Googles GMOs* Someone named Food Babe says GMOs are poisoning our kids. Also, I am out of marketing ideas.
Science Lady: You are a dumbass.
21-year-old Intern with Man Bun: *stops pouring coffee and lectures room about Monsanto's evil overlords*
Entire Room: Beat it, Man Bun. We are the evil Candy Overlords.
Social Media Guy: *whines* The GMO Inside Army is really scary, you guys. They use a lot of exclamation points.
Marketing Guy: I am too bored to come up with new marketing ideas plus my Google research says that consumers have a right to know what's in their food.
Science Lady: Sucrose.
Marketing Guy: But...cane sugar...
Science Lady: Still sucrose.
Marketing Guy: But...poison...
Science Lady: *rolls eyes*
Marketing Guy: But it's better for you?
Science Lady: *speaks slowly* Mr. Goodbar does not care where its sucrose is from. Mr. Goodbar will still make you fat.
Marketing Guy: But...I need a new marketing idea. Also, sugarcane isn't GMO so it's better for the planet! Pesticides!
Science Lady: Yes, pests on sugarcane are sprayed with unicorn tears and it will be shipped here from Central America on flying carpets. *walks out and updates resume*
Secretary/Voice of Reason: *whispers* The anti-GMO people still won't buy our candy.
Boss: *ignores secretary* Fine. Make the announcement. Tell everyone how much we care or something.
Man Bun: *pretends to smoke a Twizzler* Are we going to use, like, Fair Trade sugar or anything?
Entire Room: GET. OUT.
Man Bun: *rides 10-speed to pot dealer's house*
Social Media Guy: *tweets* Have a Sweet Day!
Marketing Guy: *finally has a new marketing idea* We Are a Consumer-centric Company!
American Farmers: What the hell just happened?
GMO Inside: Hooray! *Continues to never buy Hershey products*
Well done, GMO Inside! You and your minions have successfully risked the financial future of 10,000 sugar beet farmers so that a Hershey Bar will still be a Hershey Bar. You've done nothing to change the candy, it is and always will be delicious junk food but now Hershey's can market it as "gmo-free" and give it a little health halo. Excellent work. Perhaps this will help them sell more Kisses!
GMO Inside: But...the environment!
Can you really make the case that importing sugar from Latin America is somehow more environmentally sound than sugar from Minnesota? GMO Inside certainly isn't delusional enough to think that all sugarcane plantations are run by benevolent leprechauns who use fairy dust to kill weeds. No, even GMO Inside supporters are right to be concerned about pesticides and labor practices on these plantations.
Go ahead and take a bow though. You deserve it. But let's not pretend that the campaign against Hershey's was anything but what it was - a clever business maneuver to further the bottom line and the ideologies of the organic corporations who benefit from the demonization of biotech. And we should also acknowledge that you gave Hershey's a nice little gift - a new marketing approach that lets them put a cute GMO-free label on the candy wrappers and allows them to say:
"We listen to our consumer. We are a consumer-centric company!"
And in the end, no matter what country the sugar is from, too many Mr. Goodbars will still make you fat.