A chocolate craze
Tens of thousands of chocolate bars shipped to North every year

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 31/97) - Northerners consume mountains of chocolate.

Despite problems with shipping Easter bunnies, chocolate is a year-round delight for Northerners who eat the high-calorie treat almost often enough to be a dietary staple.

Made from ground cacao seeds, chocolate was originally known as a drink and first used by Central American Aztecs.

It wasn't until the 17th century that it became associated with a solid, edible substance.

Now known as one of the richest, most forbidden foods, chocolate tickles the palate of many a Northerner. Everybody loves chocolate.

Ian McIver, co-op manager in Pelly Bay, said that the store ordered 47,532 chocolate bars in 1996, up about 7,000 from 1995.

"Yeah, we sell a lot of bars up here," he said.

At just over $1 a piece, the 500 residents of the tiny community collectively spent about $50,000 in chocolate last year. This works out to be 95 bars per person in 1996.

And Pelly Bay residents aren't alone in their chocolate fetish.

Pat MacDonald, manager of the Hall Beach co-op, said his community consumes more than 1,600 kilograms of chocolate every year.

He said that the 500 residents of Hall Beach buy the chocolate as fast as he can order it.

"I order 30 boxes of 24 bars a month," he said. "It's popular, especially for kids and teenagers."

While bars are a huge seller, MacDonald, who's been manager for 11 years, said that he doesn't order Easter chocolate at all.

"There's no calories in the chocolate I sell," he quips. "And I don't get Easter chocolate in because it gets broken up in the shipping."

Assuming the amount of chocolate consumed in Hall Beach (not as high as Pelly Bay) is representative of the North in general, residents of the NWT consume 200,000 kilograms of chocolate bars each year (and this doesn't include other types of chocolate.)

That's about three kilograms per person, per year.

Which raises the question: Do Northerners visit the dentist more often than southerners?