“We have to do some re-branding” – Chocolate shop controversy forces name change

Consumer Report

PORTLAND, Oregon (KGW) – A new Portland, Oregon chocolate house is facing sharp criticism before even opening its doors. Critics said 1670 New American Chocolate House ignored a connection between its name and branding and the slave trade.

Owner Michael Arnovitz plans to roast his own fairly traded cacao beans and use them to make single origin chocolate for eating and drinking.

“We used to have chocolate houses in this country the way we have coffee houses now,” Arnovitz says. “The first known American chocolate house was created in 1670 in Boston.”

Arnovitz said that’s how he came up with the name 1670.

“Using it just connected me to the history of American chocolate,” he says.

It also created a disconnect with some. A few days ago, someone altered Arnovitz’s window display that included three trade ships. They added a timeline illustrating what else happened around 1670—a rise in the transatlantic slave trade, genocide and land theft connected in part, to the cacao industry.

“I just looked at it and I was like, ‘Wow!’ I was just kind of stunned,” Arnovitz says, adding that it was not at all what he’d meant by his name and branding. 

He now plans change the name of his chocolate house, though he doesn’t have a new name yet.

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