Huh. Guess these must be locked away somewhere so Daniel Gross can’t find them. Photo by Liv
So it seems that Daniel Gross of Slate has finally acknowledged that you can find a chocolate bar in China… well, sort of. The title of his piece is “Chinese Chocolate Mystery Solved!” and the entire intro implies that Gross had been looking for his elusive sweet thing (a, he specified this time, “Hershey’s bar or Chinese equivalent”) in backwoods places, instead of say… Wal-Mart. Only, oh wait, he kind of mentioned that there was a Wal-Mart where he was located.
But that little slip up aside, we’d barely care enough to blog about this non-controversy if Gross hadn’t followed his chocolate foible up with a slightly infuriating list of “reasons” he couldn’t find his treat of choice, of which only one we will 100% agree with (Number 2: TRY HARDER). The most egregious of his list:
4. Chocolate is a bourgeois Western construct. The average Chinese worker can’t afford this expensive foreign treat and doesn’t want it anyway. One reader, who also noted a dearth of chocolate, said one of her Chinese co-workers told her that “chocolate is very expensive for us.” Indeed, a few readers noted that it’s considered a premium snack compared with cheaper options like biscuits and candy and as a result is not always displayed alongside other snacks.
Well. The words “average Chinese consumer” are a little misleading. If he’s talking about the part of China that’s mostly laborers and farmers, they can’t really afford most of the treats pouring into China these days. But the middle class and upper echelons – you know, the people foreign companies are actually targeting – are not wringing their hands over the cost of chocolate by any means. Also… did he really use the word “bourgeois”?
It doesn’t stop there – in Number 9 Gross throws in a little nonsensical paranoia:
9. Western conspiracy. Chocolate is universally addictive and desirable, so Western firms are depriving Chinese of chocolate for a reason, one correspondent suggested, I think in jest: “If we withhold chocolate long enough, they’re sure to forgive our debt.”
You think in jest? We’re hoping that Gross was trying to make a funny and it was just too meta for even us.
Worst of all, the conclusion still insinuates that chocolate is somehow hard to find here. And not just in Wanzhou. Gross, who spends his last night in Beijing, is only able to locate a “dusty Dove chocolate bar,” which means that, while in the second most populated city in the nation – one that’s building a CHOCOLATE THEME PARK – he still didn’t manage to get what he wanted. What’s Chinese for “face palm”?