29 Nov. 2010
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Want Moths With That?

Not a Rhetorical Question

If it were a rhetorical question, you would most likely answer "I don't think so" without bothering to inquire as to the nature of the "that."  But it isn't rhetorical, the "that" was chocolate, and I got moths.  Lots of moths.  Probably thousands.  And I still have them.  Others have them as well.  And none of us is happy.

The Tragedy of the Biancotto

Lindt Biancotto chocolate, mercifully fully wrapped

Observe above the noble Lindt Biancotto.  It is part of the Lindt Chocolate Giandujotto chocolate line.  Before I get to the moth part of this blog, I'll spend the rest of this paragraph waxing rhapsodic about Lindt chocolate.  I like chocolate.  I don't like spending money.  Godiva chocolate, for quality, variety, and accessibility is still the gold standard.  Unfortunately, their pricing has become the gold standard, too, and we know what has happened to the price of gold.  Fortunately, as Godiva developed their "you can't afford it" theory, Lindt, probably in a carefully calculated campaign for market share, reduced the price of their truffles to a startlingly reasonable value.  Less variety, but a lot more really good chocolate for the money.  Lindt has been (and remains, notwithstanding the balance of this blogitem,) a staple supplier. 

You can find Lindt truffles, the mass-market packages, everywhere.  Perhaps their ubiquity was what led them to close a number of their own retail stores.  During the last month of one store's existence, I mortgaged my Wheats, tuna, and Swiss cheese in order to be able to stock up.  Everything must go!  I even put in a bid on one of the display units.  I departed the store in its final days with shopping bags in every hand, balanced to avoid listing.  I made it in to work with my haul and settled into consumption mode.  Part of the haul was several pounds of the above pictured Biancotto and its conspecifics in brown and gold wrappers.  These are especially delicate, yummy, and hard to find.  So hard to find, in fact, that I can't even locate them on the Swiss Lindt web site.  Although you won't see these in the supermarket, you might find them in a Lindt retail outlet.  If you do, and decide to purchase some (on my recommendation of "yummy,") you should also

Beware of Insect Larvae

When I got my chocolate haul to work, I began methodically consuming it.  I don't list easily - there was quite a lot.  When I finally got to the Biancottos and friends, I made a shocking discovery.

Lindt Biancotto chocolate with insect larvae damage Lindt Giandujotto chocolate showing insect larvae damage

Normally smooth and shapely by design, most of the chocolates were as you see here, ridden with furrows, some of them with little white squirmy things in them.  Insect larvae!  Burrowing creatures!  Since I had probably popped one or two without noticing this depredation, I had a negative reaction, which you are invited to guess:

  • OMG

  • Yikes

  • What a waste

  • Sound effects attendant upon a Technicolor yawn

  • Trip to the emergency room to get a CAT scan for crawly creatures

OK, it's a bit of a trick question:  It was actually a combination of 1, 2, and 3.  Nobody has ever accused me of excessive (or, really, any) sensitivity when it comes to food.

My next reaction, given that Lindt is a major international company that presumably knows how to make insect-free chocolates, was that somehow the chocolates became contaminated while in my custody.  I very reluctantly discarded the couple of pounds I had remaining.  It seems I wasn't fast enough.  Look again at those photos and consider conservation of mass-energy:  Where did the missing chocolate go?  It turned into moths.  Thousands of slow, tiny moths.  These moths follow me wherever I go.  They visit my office, that of my colleagues, and they perambulate 3-dimensionally down a long corridor at my place of striving.  They are not an unalloyed disaster, since, as I mentioned, they are slow and provide sport for those of us with decent reflexes.  It's mostly an even match; they are not without avoidance instincts which seem to be improving, further evidence for the theory of evolution.  But many of my co-workers aren't keen on the Lindt-moth challenge, and at some point this will become "old."  

As I mentioned, my original thought was that somehow the chocolates became contaminated after I bought them.  But I was accidentally able to perform a controlled experiment that proved they were born that way, or at least acquired their infestation before I purchased them.  It seems that I had split the bags of chocolate into separate moieties, one of which I transported home immediately after purchase.  It had somehow become buried among the other bags, boxes, and bars of chocolate co-resident, which isn't difficult around here.  And when I found and broached that bag, its contents, too, suffered from the furrows and larvae of faulty sterilization.  I belatedly realized that the chocolates I purchased from the Lindt company-owned store were "defective" in a rather nasty (and, presumably, actionable) way. 

This is America.  Did I go to my streetcorner lawyer and have him demand satisfaction?  No!  That is not my way.  And the "damages" I suffered, due to my fortunate or unfortunate lack of sensitivity, were largely caused by a chocolack.  (It is only recently that I have been thinking about the cost of an exterminator.)   My original "demand" to Lindt, unsurprisingly, was "Replace my purchase with chocolates without insect larvae."  If that isn't the soul of reason, I don't know what is.

Lindt Didn't Quite See It That Way

Lindt is a Swiss company.  Switzerland is a country without streetcorner lawyers, and the lawyers they do have are trying to keep UBS and their other banks out of jail.  And who knows? perhaps they view the insect larvae as bonus protein, or have found a way to harness hordes of slow-flying moths to miniature farm implements that they sell to bordering Liechtenstein, seeing how small the farms there must be.  In any event, Lindt seemed far less concerned (and totally unalarmed) by the infestation than those to whom I showed the shocking photos or chocolates.  Lindt was actually aware that this happens on occasion.  As far as compensation for the discarded chocolate, they sent me, pick one:

  • A million dollars and flew in their Mtre Confiseur to offer an apology

  • My weight in larva-free Biancotto chocolates

  • A check sufficient to replace the several pounds of discarded chocolate, along with a heartfelt apology suitable for framing

  • A paltry $30 worth of gift certificates and a list of places where their stores might still be open so I could try to find a substitute

No trick question this time, and no prize for the correct answer.  Except it is not the correct answer, because, after several tries at communicating my dissatisfaction to Lindt and to their representative, Liz Lindahl, along with further attempts by email and telephone to just get the name of someone who could offer a more nearly satisfactory solution, I am resorting to the Power of the Blog to obtain restitution.  If and when this is resolved, you will find a follow-up below.  Meanwhile, enjoy these excerpts from a somewhat-more-extended correspondence with Lindt USA.

Follow-up 10 Feb. 2011

Unsurprisingly, this matter was finally resolved to my satisfaction.

From: ConsumerService-US [mailto:ConsumerService-US@lindt.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2010 3:32 PM
Subject: Lindt Chocolate file #xxxxx

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your recent phone call regarding Lindt Chocolate.  I apologize for the unpleasant experience you had with the Italian Specialty Giandujotto.  A great deal of care is used in our manufacturing and distribution processes to ensure that our customers receive a quality product.   

Very rarely do we find a Lindt product infested. Please be assured that we take this situation very seriously.  It is reported to top management here in the United States and in Switzerland.

Kind Regards,

Liz Lindahl

Consumer Affairs Specialist

From: Richard Factor [mailto:XXX@XXX.com]
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2010 2:41 PM
To: ConsumerService-US
Cc: Richard Factor
Subject: RE: Lindt Chocolate file


 I just received a token recompense of $30 for the infested chocolate I sent you.  While I am shocked that you feel this insignificant payment is sufficient, I am also a reasonable person and a nice guy.  (You can even verify the latter by looking in your corporate records for a couple of survey responses from me complimenting the salesperson at your Stamford store for extra-good service.)

 I purchased approximately four pounds of these chocolates.  These are especially expensive ones, since I gather they come from EU, where “top management” has been notified.  Surely something that is worthy of their attention is worthy of Lindt USA’s attention as well.  The attention I’m requesting is pretty simple:  I would like the chocolates replaced with four pounds of non-infested ones, specifically those of the silver- and gold-wrapped persuasion, which had an especially large concentration of spoor and almost all of which I had to discard. 

Please save yourself, your company, and especially me of the necessity of further thought or correspondence about this matter and find a way to replace my chocolate.  I am not keen to go on a shopping expedition, and would like to be able to say and think nice things about Lindt, as I have been doing up until receipt of your letter this very day.



From: ConsumerService-US [mailto:ConsumerService-US@lindt.com]
Sent: Monday, July 19, 2010 3:28 PM
To: Richard Factor
Subject: RE: Lindt Chocolate file #xxxxx

Dear Richard,

Please accept my apology for your dissatisfaction with our offer of resolution for your damaged product.  In accordance with our guidelines we are unable to offer product for compensation. 

Kind Regards,

Liz Lindahl

Consumer Affairs Specialist

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