Elevate Difference

Jane Goodall Bars

Monkeys have been in the news lately. Here's my favorite monkey story: once a researcher was going to test the intelligence of a chimpanzee by putting the subject in an empty room with assorted boxes in a pile and a banana hanging from the ceiling by a string. The scientist was about to retreat to an observation space and watch through the mirror in order to determine how long it took his subject to stack the boxes and take the food. With what (I imagine) as patient exasperation, the monkey took the researcher in hand—the one that wasn't holding the clipboard—led him so that he was standing immediately beneath the banana, and scaled the six feet of lab coat-covered hominid to perch on the primatologist's shoulders, snatch the banana, leap down, and lope off to a corner to enjoy the fruit. Problem solved.

Given their obvious intelligence, it is no surprise that keeping apes as pets poses problems. Smart does not necessarily mean nice. The recent attack by a chimpanzee in Connecticut has resulted in a $50 million liability lawsuit, and the New York Post cartoon referring to the incident should not be dignified with acknowledgment. Indian cities struggle with macaque attacks (note: yes, I am aware that "monkey" and "ape" are not to be used interchangeably—humor my colloquialism). Tragic assaults have occurred throughout the United States, and legislation has been proposed to outlaw keeping monkeys as pets. Given this, the maintenance of refuges and reintroduction programs—such as the one among the initiatives funded by the Jane Goodall Institute—is an endeavor both noble and wise. Thank goodness that I can support it by eating chocolate.

Theo Chocolates offers a Jane Goodall bar, plain milk or dark, in honor of the groundbreaking primatologist, in addition to their more exquisite and elaborate items. The Seattle-based organization produces classic combinations such as hazelnut crunch milk chocolate, dark chocolate with orange or mint flavoring, and cherries and almonds. More unusual candies include a dark chocolate with bread crumbs and salt, fig fennel and almond, and milk chocolate with chai or coconut curry. They use fairly traded organic cacoa, and wrap the goods in environmentally astute post-consumer recycled paper products. Their confections are truly superlative, small squares of endorphin explosion that could positively reinforce virtually any behavior in this primate, whether the setting was natural or a controlled laboratory environment. Truffles include an ultra-dark and smooth "Ivory Coast," peanut butter, fig fennel, burnt sugar, lemon, and mint. Green tea and ginger? Pumpkin chai? Sunflower and banana butter? I must order some of the vegan options. The entire Theo line merits an ecstatic "e-hoot" in the Gombe or anywhere else.

Written by: Erika Mikkalo, April 7th 2009