At the Chocolate Meltdown, here’s how to try very intense chocolate

Oxford’s premier January event is a fundraiser for the Oxford Community Arts Center and Miami University’s Richard and Carole Cocks Art Museum — and it attracts more than 1,000 chocoholics.

The Chocolate Meltdown is a public even set for 1-5 p.m. Jan. 13.

This column looks behind the scenes, from the perspective of MOON Co-op, one of the event’s many chocolate providers.

Here’s how it works. Purchase tasting tickets as you enter OCAC, present a ticket to a vendor, and receive a sample in return that the vendor judges worth roughly $1. MOON Co-op offers 3 chocolate squares per ticket.

MOON Co-op is happy to help out OCAC and the Art Museum. All three of us contribute to making Oxford a special place to live.

But MOON Co-op — like other small businesses in Oxford — has to count every penny. This is especially important for a business that is cooperatively owned by 1,000 local households rather than by a big out-of-town corporation.

Enter Equal Exchange, MOON’s source of chocolate for Chocolate Meltdown. Like MOON, Equal Exchange is cooperatively owned, in its case, a producer-owned co-op, founded in Massachusetts in 1986 by several former managers of food co-ops (like MOON) in New England. Equal Exchange’s 100+ employees each own identical shares of the company, vote for company directors, and receive equal shares of profits.

Most Equal Exchange chocolate contains only 3 ingredients: cacao, sugar and vanilla. [Some bars contain a fourth ingredient, such as orange or almond.] All ingredients are organic and certified Fair Trade and are sourced from grower-owned co-ops, mostly in northwestern South America.

The organic cacao beans are sourced from small-scale farmers organized into cooperatives, mostly in Peru. The organic raw cane sugar comes from Manduvira co-op, the first farmer-owned sugar mill in Paraguay. The organic vanilla beans come from a co-op in Madagascar.

The chocolate from Equal Exchange is about as intensely “chocolaty” as you will find at Chocolate Meltdown. The percentage of cacao ranges from a low of 55% to a high of 92%. In comparison, a Hershey’s bar contains only around 11% cacao, not to mention unspecified chemical additives.

Co-ops sign on to seven cooperative principles, one of which is that co-ops cooperate among each other. As a well-established cooperative, Equal Exchange is helping MOON Co-op, and by extension the Oxford community, by providing the chocolate for MOON to have at Chocolate Meltdown at a very low cost. Equal Exchange’s Midwest sales rep Charlie is a Miami grad who tries to time his visits to Oxford for home Miami hockey games.

Please stop by and say hi to us at Chocolate Meltdown. MOON Co-op’s two helpers at Chocolate Meltdown Miles Dumyahn and Mitzi Ganelin (ages withheld) are testimony that the event appeals to chocoholics of all ages.

And take our chocoholic’s ultimate challenge by sampling our 92% cacao. Entire chocolate bars can be purchased to take home.

Equal Exchange chocolate is available at MOON Co-op, Oxford’s consumer-owned full-service grocery, featuring natural, local, organic, sustainable, and Earth-friendly products. The store, located at 516 S. Locust St. in Oxford, is open to the public every day. Check it out online at

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