Chocolate Frogs Just Got a Lot Sweeter: Harry Potter Fans Triumph Against Child Slavery

hp alliance
Image via the HP Alliance.

I can’t be the only Harry Potter fan who’s wanted to try a Chocolate Frog or cover a wall in collectible wizard cards. Or, you know, go to Hogwarts and become the next Hermione Granger — but that’s neither here nor there. The difference is: You actually can eat a Chocolate Frog.

If you happen to be lucky enough for a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s easy to find one; or, for those of us without huge travel budgets, you can also buy them on Amazon. But here’s the thing: Until Christmas of 2014, none of the ingredients used in Chocolate Frogs and other Harry Potter products that contained cocoa powder were Fair Trade. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

Why is Fair Trade important? Well, brands that are designated as “Fair Trade” are part of the Fair Trade nonprofit, an organization that works to ensure that farmers and workers receive just compensation for their labor. In other words, they fight against exploitation and against practices like child labor. Child labor (slavery, really) runs rampant throughout the cocoa industry, and prior to its Fair Trade agreement, the supplier of Wizarding World was using products that had no guarantee of being anywhere close to Fair Trade.

In response, a human rights activist named Andrew Slack formed a coalition of Harry Potter fans and Free Trade supporters called the Harry Potter Alliance, and he started calling attention to the issue in 2005. They did so by making videos that referred to Walmart as a corporate “Voldemort,” or an oppressive force that took advantage of its workers and suppliers, many of them from developing or poor countries.

In 2010, the Alliance launched its widespread cocoa campaign, calling on the support of John Green and the many millions of Harry Potter fans worldwide. When Free 2 Work, an anti-slavery campaign, reviewed the supplier of the chocolate sold at Wizarding World, the many holes and transparencies they found in the records resulted in the supplier’s “F” grade.

The movement gained more and more steam when they petitioned Warner Bros. to be open about its suppliers and when Alliance members started recording “Howlers” (videos of complaint and admonition) addressed to the company.

The pressure and effort paid off. Soon, Warner Bros. entered an amicable dialogue with Slack and the anti-slavery groups he’d paired with to find a solution. Now, by the end of 2015, all of the chocolate Harry Potter products distributed by Warner Bros. will be labeled either UTZ (another sustainable, Fair Trade-like organization) or Fair Trade certified.

This victory not only stands for the rights of millions of workers worldwide, but for the amazing ideology present and supported in the Harry Potter books. The fight for equality regardless of any perceived difference is one that is both necessary and right, as is the bastion of fighting for a change you want to see — especially a change that will ultimately affect people the world over.

If I were J.K. Rowling, I’d be pretty damn proud right now. Shall we say, mischief managed?

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