Precious World of Chocolate: Bitter Reality and Sweeter Fantasy

Gollum or Smeagol, the "Lord of the Rings" character with 'his precious' chocolate bar; an illustration on scarcity and value of chocolate in today's world, AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

February is the Chocolate Lovers Month. Beyond just being the sweetest Valentine food gift idea, the most precious human delicacy deserved an even greater throne. But scheduling the celebration in the shortest month turned out ominous. This February, cocoa prices have hit record highs. Should we expect a shortage in chocolate supply? Just like the entire planet, the world of chocolate is directly affected by the climate change. In this bitter reality, the sweetest treat could disappear from our menu.

Chocapocalypse now

A graph showing the soaring cocoa prices in a period of a year up to February 2024 when they reached above $6,500 per tonne, for the first time ever, due to the shortage in cocoa yields in West Africa; data represented by Trading Economics.
Cocoa price hike crossed the $6,000 mark in February 2024 (Trading Economics)

West Africa, the powerhouse behind two-thirds of the world’s cocoa supply, has faced extreme weather. Heavy rains followed by a dry spell, and coupled with winds, pests, and black pod disease, diminished crop yields for the third consecutive year. Ivory Coast, the largest producer, has even pressed pause on sales for the 2024/2025 season, sounding the alarm for the industry.

As a result of the crisis, cocoa futures prices in both London and New York markets doubled in a year. Recently, they shattered records set back in 1977, with prices soaring, for the first time, over $6,500 per tonne.

Update 26.3.2024.: Cocoa prices broke another record mark, now costing $10,030 per metric ton. 

Climate change could permanently erase the world of chocolate

Global warming and changing weather arising from El Niño could permanently evict cocoa from West Africa. Some food futurologists predict that the extinction of chocolate could be a sad reality 100 years from now. Everyone’s favorite treat may become just a memory fading between facts and fantasies.

From the precious currency of the Mayan civilization to the golden tickets for Willy Wonka‘s chocolate factory, we’ve always placed a higher value on chocolate consumption than on climate change.

But what if we could imagine a completely different world? What if we could travel to a parallel universe where chocolate was not scarce but – abundant? I used the power of AI to visualize that dreamy world of chocolate, our precious.

If you want to inspire others to save Earth's resources, check out these slogans on environment also created by AI!

The alternate world of chocolate

1. What if the capital of the USA was Wonkatown D.C.?

 

Imagine the USA in which the capital city was named after the first president Willy Wonka, and not George Washington. The eccentric chocolatier would not reign from the White House but from the White Chocolate House. Little Donald Trump would be able to visit the factory only if he got lucky with snagging a golden ticket, like Charlie Bucket. Of course, he could always apply for the job position of Oompa-Loompa.

White House as White Chocolate House, a miniature made of chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

 

Beware whenever you notice marketing supported by AI! Parents who brought their kids to Willy's Chocolate Experience in Glasgow will think twice next time.

2. What if California was Chocofornia?

California gold rush for chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

In the alternative universe, fortune seekers would rush to California not to mine gold but the abundant reserves of chocolate nibs. Rising from that frenzy, San Francisco would’ve had cable cars gliding on chocolate. The Golden Gate Bridge would’ve been the Silver Gate Bridge, made of recycled chocolate wrapping foil, of course. If you ended up behind chocolate bars, Alcatraz (known as The Choc) would arrest your palate. Fortune cookies, invented in Chinatown in the 1930s, would also taste way better if made of chocolate.

San Francisco's Silver Gate Bridge made of chocolate wrapping foil; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

 

3. What if Mount Rushmore was Mount Rush S’more?

Mount Rushmore as Mount Rush S'more; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

In the chocolate version of USA history, besides California’s chocolate rush, there would also be a s’more rush. Popular American graham-cracker sandwich with roasted marshmallow and gooey chocolate would be celebrated at Mount Rush S’more in South Dakota. The national memorial to Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln made of s’mores would become the state’s top attraction with thousands of people gathering around the campfire to munch on their favorite treat. Shrine of S’moreocracy would get so popular that even blockbuster movies would pay their homage to the iconic site. In “Marshmallow Attacks!”, Tim Burton‘s villains would add their faces to the sticky peaks of the Black Hills.

Poster for a fictive movie "Marshmallow Attacks!", a parody of "Mars Attacks!", with marshmallow aliens invading Earth; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

4. What if the Grand Canyon was the Grand Chocanyon?

Grand Chocanyon - if Grand Canyon was made of chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

In the United States that abound with chocolate, unique natural treasures would be protected as national parks. One such preserve would be Grand Chocanyon in Arizona, a gorge carved by the mighty Chocolorado River, so unique that it’s often considered on par with the original 7 wonders of the world. Imagine hiking through the spectacular landscape of chocolate erosion, with park rangers warning you that the tempting towering cliffs of cocoa are strictly off-limits for snacking. Irresistible cravings would inspire even filmmakers such as Ridley Scott, whose “Thelma & Louise” would give a new meaning to Death by Chocolate.

Famous scene from the movie "Thelma & Louise" where the two friends ride a car over the cliff of Grand Canyon, here covered in chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

5. What if Coachella was Nutella?

The stage of Coachella Music Festival rebranded as Nutella, in a form of a gigantic spread jar, with concertgoers in the audience; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Every year, Chocolorado Desert would host the world-famous Nutella Festival. Gathering at what we know as Coachella Valley in our reality, thousands of hazelnut-cocoa lovers would gather to experience trendsetting live music, art installations, and partying in eclectic fashion combinations. From Nutella-inspired costumes to body painting with the beloved spread, festival-goers would set new standards of decadence.

A young woman in Nutella-inspired outfit at an imaginary chocolatey version of Coachella Festival; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Festival crowd going nuts for Nutella, smearing the chocolate spread on each other in the alternate version of Coachella Festival; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

 

For even more nut Coachella outfits and Nutella-fueled partygoers check out our carousel on Instagram!

6. What if the Super Bowl was replaced by a Peanut Butter Cup?

Super Bowl as Peanut Butter Cup; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Chocolate America would still have sports fanatics, cheering for their team in the grand finale of the NFL – the Peanut Butter Cup. Besides the game to declare the winners of the cup – American football champions, the event would serve entertainment with spectacular halftime shows, and the most expensive commercials in history. True to the nature of their peanut filling, the main cup sponsor would be Snickers, the chocolate bar brand launching their very own line of – sneakers.

7. What if Kremlin was ruled by a chocolate addict?

Colorful onion domes of Kremlin church in a cake version with chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Turning now to another global power that focused on chocolate dominance after the Second World War, in a geopolitical tension between East and West better known as the Cocoa War. The seat of the Soviet Union, later Russia, Kremlin (Cremelin, in English) is a fortified complex in Moscow, named after the government’s smooth approach to foreign policy. In this sweeter version of the universe, President Vladimir Putin would not be a dictator but an addict, a chocolate addict. He would be famous for topless bear rides in chocolate rivers, organizing sweet retreats in Siberia, and throwing calorie bombs on Ukraine. “Cremelin annexing Cremea” would be a more digestible headline if Russia would shower their neighbors with bonbons instead of bombs.

Shirtless Russian President Vladimir Putin riding a bear through a chocolate river; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Alchemy.

 

8. What if the Colosseum was a Chocolosseum?

Rome's Colosseum if it were made of chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Speaking of sweet combats, we couldn’t skip mentioning the Roman Empire that built the largest amphitheater only to be able to entertain the public. In Chocolosseum, gladiator games would’ve been fought over the precious treat in a cocoa-powder-filled arena. The emperors knew that to rule the crowds, it was enough to feed them and entertain them. This idea of cocoa combats was compressed in the famous Latin saying “panem et circenses” (loosely translated as “chocolate and games”).

Roman gladiators covered with chocolate fighting in cocoa arena; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

9. What if the Pope was Chocatholic?

The Last Supper with Jesus and apostles eating chocolate products with a lot of wrapper mess on the floor; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

You might have been taught that Jesus, just like Romans, offered only bread when he hosted that Last Supper. But what if, just what if, cocoa was as widespread as wheat? In this reality, the Son of God doesn’t break bread; he breaks chocolate bars, declaring: “Take, eat; this is my body.” The apostles would be the first to coin the term “sweet Jesus”, spreading the happy news and maybe stamping a completely different history of Christianity. Surely, by offering chocolate wafers instead of those made of whole wheat, the Church would attract many more followers to Sunday communions.

Pope Francis biting into several chocolates holding in his hand; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Alchemy.

Pope Francis laughing while dveouring chocolate and making a mess on his hands and chin; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Alchemy.

10. What if the Leaning Tower of Pisa was the Leaking Tower of Pisa?

Leaning Tower of Pisa with a melting chocolate falling off of it; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

The Tower of Pisa is another iconic Italian landmark. In the alternate reality, the belltower wouldn’t lean because of the unstable soft ground, but because of its design. The engineer would’ve started from an attempt to create the world’s largest chocolate fountain. The gigantic fondue with melted chocolate would attract millions of visitors making funny photographs while pretending to touch and lick its flowing liquid gold.

11. What if Paris had the Eclairiffel Tower?

Eiffel Tower in Paris made of chocolate eclairs; AI Image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

In a world that doesn’t know what to do with extra chocolate, Paris would erect a tower of their own, the Eclairiffel Tower. Built for the 1889 World Fair to celebrate the centennial of the French Revolution (famous for Marie Antoinette‘s sentence “Let them eat cake”), the towering masterpiece would highlight the staple pastry of French cuisine – éclair. Inebriated by the cream-filled choux dough topped with chocolate icing, some tourists would linger and accidentally spend the night on the tower. But who could blame them?

12. What if Rio’s most famous beach was Cocoa Cabana?

A large statue of chocolate cocoa sculpture on Copacabana Beach; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

In our fantasy chocoverse, Rio de Janeiro has a special connection with the sweetest treat. Between Sugarloaf Mountain and Forte de Cocoa Cabana (where else?), a chocolate-loving paradise built its name as one of the most iconic beaches – Cocoa Cabana. The four-kilometer-long stretch of sand is where people come to take long walks, enjoy the sunshine, or sip freshly opened cocoa nuts. The city is famous for its Rio Chocarnival, the largest in the world, where millions attend parades with chocolate-themed floats and samba dancers.

Samba dancer at Rio Carnival with chocolate six-pack in an alternative world of chocolate where cocoa is abundant; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

 

If you like the idea of a chocolate parade in Rio, check out more images in our Instagram carousel!

13. What if Easter Island had Easter Bunnies for Moai sculptures?

Rapa Nui Easter egg bunny Moai sculptures with bunny ears, if they would be carved out of chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Easter Island or Rapa Nui in Chile is another bucket-list destination for many travelers. In a world where chocolate would not be scarce, it would be used to carve nearly 1,000 monolithic statues, known as moai. Half-buried underground, these enigmatic Easter Bunnies would leave many questions unanswered – why and how were they built? Their purpose would’ve remained a mystery, but the first European visitors would eventually name the bunnies’ home – Easter Island.

14. What if the capital of Egypt was Chocairo?

Pyramids of Gaza made of Toblerone chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

The birthplace of chocolate is in South America where several civilizations started cultivating cacao trees. Their mythical cities, such as Maya‘s Choco Itza, had counterparts in Africa, where pyramids appeared as tombs for rulers in countries such as Sudan or Egypt. In the version of history where chocolate never dies, confectionery brands constructed monuments to the treat, believing in chocolate’s connection with eternal life. The Pyramids of Giza were managed by Toblerone, Twix was responsible for Giza Sphinx, while Ferrero Rocher directly appointed pharaohs.

Chocolate pyramid with Toblerone chocolate wrapper in Egyptian version; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Sphinx in Egypt made out of Twix chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Pharaoh holding an Egyptian version of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, with the sun glowing behind the pyramid behind his back; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

15. What if M&M’s stood for Masai Mara?

A child from Maasai Tribe holding a pot with colorful M&M candies, with zebras and giraffes standing behind in the savannah of Masai Mara; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

You might think that M&M’s are named after their creators, Mars and Murrie. But in our fantastic universe, the rainbow drops fell over Masai Mara, the wildlife reserve in Kenya. Maasai tribe named this area Mara (“spotted”) when they first migrated here and saw small bushes dotting the landscape. Or were those little dots of color in savannah something else? Masai Mara would’ve been a perfect spot to test the idea behind coating the colorful chocolate candies in sugar, as a way to prevent them from melting in warm climates.

Monkey eating colorful chocolate candies from a bag of M&M's in Masai Mara; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

16. What if you could taste the feeling of always Cocoa-Cola?

A cup of hot cocoa Coca-Cola in winter holidays cozy set-up; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Coca-Cola made fantastic marketing by guarding the recipe of its fizzy drink as top secret. But what if, instead of coca leaves, the secret ingredient was cocoa beans? Forget about ice; Cocoa Cola is best enjoyed topped with marshmallows, perfect for cozying up on a cold winter day. Even in the company’s iconic Christmas commercials, Santa Claus would finally get a chance to indulge in a comforting hot Cocoa-Cola, accompanied by a plate of cookies. Our chocoverse makes sense, doesn’t it?

Santa Claus in a cozy holiday-styled room with a fireplace, drinking a hot Cocoa-Cola, Coca-Cola made of chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

17. What if chickens laid Kinder Eggs?

Kinder Surprise egg chicken farm in a world of chocolate; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

In a world where we never lack chocolate, mass production is key. The solution for Kinder Eggs would be specially trained laying hens. These poultry farms would deliver steady supplies of chocolatey delights known as Kinder Surprise or Kinder Joy. Three things in one – some chocolate, a toy, and a – surprise.

18. What if Milka was painting all domestic animals lila?

Men and purple-painted animals (cows, dogs, cats, birds, even a lion) standing in front of a barn with Milka sign; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

In the chocolate-ruled universe, Milka would be another corporation that couldn’t be ignored. In the competitive confectionery market, the brand would turn to controversial advertising tactics. Beyond just painting their signature cow Lila in purple, the company would make Alpine pastures a gigantic color experiment. Everything that moves would become a violet walking advertisement.

A kitten in a bowl full of purple paint being painted with a paint brush, with half-painted violet cows and pigs standing in the background in an alternate universe where Milka chocolate company decided to make all animals lila; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

19. What if dogs and pigs were hunting chocolate truffles?

Truffler dogs and pigs in the chocolate field hunting chocolate truffles; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

In the underground of certain forests, an expensive delicacy grows – truffles. In 2023, one of these unique products of nature was auctioned for 184,000 euros! These edible fungi are even called precious white and precious black truffles as if Gollum himself was in charge of the naming. But in an alternate reality, the truly precious food delicacy would be chocolate truffles, reaching prices that give headaches. Luckily, chocolate truffles are the perfect headache remedy.

20. What if our Mars mission found we were already there?

Mars Rover finding a big chocolate bar on Red Planet; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

The finale of the “Planet of the Apes” movie reveals that what Colonel Taylor and his crew believed was a distant planet governed by monkeys was actually – Earth. The scene with the half-sunk Statue of Liberty was a warning already in 1968: human civilization is capable of destroying itself. In the parallel reality where we left chocolateless Earth to look for a new home, imagine that our rovers, helicopters, and eventual human missions on Mars discover that we were already there.

Martian with Mars chocolate on Mars; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.Extraterrestrial in a hoodie with Mars logo eating a chocolate bar on Mars; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.Gollum from "Lord of the Rings" finding "his precious" on Mars - a chocolate with Mars logo; AI image by Ivan Kralj / Dall-e.

Precious world of chocolate – conclusion

The recent cocoa crops crisis is just the newest bitter warning that climate change is not something to toy around with. Symptoms are all around us, and ignoring each and every one of them will not make the disease vanish in thin air.

Chocolate is not yet another ingredient. It is an important cultural cornerstone that does more than just satisfy our craving. Science has proven that chocolate lowers blood pressure and boosts our feeling of happiness. The world without chocolate is the world with higher tensions, robbed of joy.

Chocolate doesn’t have to become a term from the history books or an object that only artificial intelligence can recreate. It can survive if we act

Let’s not sugarcoat it; if we don’t cover our eyes completely, we can see the darkness is already swallowing this Middle-earth.

Sure, we can indulge in whimsical daydreams of a world where chocolate rivers flow freely and cocoa beans rain from the sky. We can invent fantasies where we prioritize treats over threats, and bonbons over bombs. We can even giggle while diverting our attention to a temporary amusement, imagining alternative iconic landmarks, festivals, or even religions.

But the issue remains serious. Hoarding the supplies will not solve it. Just calling something precious is not enough. We know how Tolkien‘s Sméagol ended; both he and his precious were destroyed.

Humans can still choose a less tragic path, if we act. Chocolate doesn’t have to become a term from the history books. History can also not become a legend. Legend doesn’t need to become a myth. Chocolate doesn’t have to pass out of all knowledge and become an object that only artificial intelligence can recreate. It can survive.

Ultimately, it’s up to us. Global warming will melt much more than just one food item. But our political power still controls the thermostat.

Did you like this fantastical guide through the world of chocolate?
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The climate change has seriously threatened the future of chocolate. The bitter reality is that cocoa crop yields have been extremely reduced in West Africa, cocoa futures prices have skyrocketed, and world supply of everyone's favorite treat is under a question mark. Will absence of chocolate become our bitter reality? Explore the alternative world of chocolate, where there's cocoa in abundance! Wouldn't this fantasy be a much sweeter version of our world?

The creator of all AI images in this article is Ivan Kralj. The alternate chocolate realities were imagined with the help of tools such as Dall-e, Alchemy, and Stable Diffusion, with additional adjustments in Adobe Photoshop.
Ivan Kralj

Editor

Award-winning journalist and editor from Croatia

15 Comments
  1. This is so creative and an entertaining way to discuss the harsh reality we face with global warming. I wish I could live in a world made of chocolate. My waistline is happy I don’t lol. Thank you for bring more awareness and attention.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Katie!
      While living in a chocolate world might be a dream come true for many, I totally understand the struggles of keeping that waistline in check!
      Also, I’m glad you recognized the importance of raising awareness about such an important issue.
      It is, I guess, true that we, humans, often romanticize our reality, and recognize the consequences of our actions only when we’re directly affected.
      Well, if the crisis of our favorite treat doesn’t raise an alarm bell, I don’t know what will.
      Keeping fingers crossed for a sweeter future for us all!

  2. It’s disheartening to see how climate change is impacting our chocolate supply. Great job on highlighting the urgent need for sustainable solutions to safeguard this essential (at least for me!) food.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Darla!
      Cocoa crops are just one of many species whose existence is being threatened by the climate change, including humans.
      Protecting our treat equals protecting the planet.
      And that should really be at the top of the agenda in today’s politics.

  3. Interesting alternate universe. But I don’t think the ECLAIRIFFEL TOWER would be as fun as it sounds. It’s not as if we would be able to enjoy eating the tower….unfortunately… it looks really delicious though. The casualty of chocolate will be a wake up call to all those that don’t see this as a crisis.

  4. You’ve done a great job depicting an incredibly creative alternative chocolate world.. It’s a great way to bring attention to the impacts of climate change on items that most take for granted.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Sonia!
      If this fantastical world of chocolate can inspire one person’s awareness or action, there’s no one happier than me.

  5. This article presents a unique and captivating approach to addressing the harsh reality of global warming. It’s saddening to witness the direct impact of climate change on our beloved chocolate. Hopefully, the plight of chocolate serves as a wake-up call for those who may not yet recognize the severity of this crisis.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Alexa!
      We’re indeed facing an environmental degradation, and the crisis is much broader than what just counting cocoa beans would suggest.
      The severity of struggle with climate change will become bigger and bigger in our own lifetimes, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t expect it at that level.
      Who knows what the world will look like in 50 years from now, but certainly it will be not even remotely resemble the artificial chocolate universes created by AI.

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this highly creative article! It does highlight an issue but it is just so entertaining and I can’t get over the creativity! I personally would need the chickens to lay Cadbury eggs and I would love to have a leaking tower of Pisa for yummy chocolate fondue! Seriously though, this is one of the most creative articles I’ve ever read!

    1. Thanks you for your kind words, Heather. It means a lot!
      I’m delighted you found the article both entertaining and thought-provoking.
      Your idea of Cadbury eggs-laying chicken together with Pisa chocolate fondue sounds like a great meal combo. Absolutely delicious!

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