Those interested in chocolate, or who delight in seeing fraudsters uncovered, should have a look at this exposÃ© on Noka Chocolates from DallasFood.org. (via BoingBoing) The ten part series might be a bit excessive, but you get the idea pretty quickly.
Apparently, a couple of accountants (Katrina Merrem and Noah Houghton) have been buying bulk chocolate for about $17.82 a pound – melting it down, shaping it, putting it into fancy boxes – then selling it for up to $2000 a pound. All this while pretending that they are actually involved in the process of making the original chocolate, as well as advancing additional dubious claims about their methods.
Amazing the crazy stuff that people who make ‘premium’ branded products can get away with. When you exploit the perception that you are providing people with the very best, and charge them accordingly, it seems fairly easy to pass off the utterly mediocre as superlative.
Those still dubious should have a look at the superb Feng Shui / bottled water episode of Penn & Teller’s: Bullshit! (Season One, Episode Seven). In it, they fill a bunch of fancy bottles using a garden hose, then sell it to the patrons of an upmarket restaurant for high prices. Listening to the customers discussing the subtle ‘notes’ they experience, and generally praise the water – interspersed with footage of a crazed looking waiter refilling the bottles on the patio – is incredibly amusing. They even call one of the options “L’eau du Robinet” (Tap Water), and sell it for $4.75 a bottle.