Messing With Dementors: Harry Potter Fans Win Demand For Fair Trade Chocolate Products

Potterheads know: nothing helps you recover from a brush with Dementors faster than a big hunk of dark chocolate. But most conventional chocolate sold these days passes through the hands of slaves in West Africa (especially Ivory Coast and Ghana)–many of those slaves children. That kind of misery only makes Dementors stronger.

But some Harry Potter fans combine a Gryffindorian fortitude with political savvy worthy of a Ravensclaw, and they have forced the Warner Bros. Company to switch to selling slavery-free, fair trade chocolate at all their Harry Potter venues.

On January 13, Yes! Magazine posted this story under the headline,

400,000 Harry Potter Fans—and J.K. Rowling—Just Won a Deal to Get Child Labor Out of Chocolate

Today, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., producer of eight Harry Potter films (with three spin-offs in the works), has announced plans to source Harry Potter-related chocolate products, like the magic frogs inspired by the books, from certified Fair Trade or 100 percent UTZ Certified cocoa.

The announcement comes after a four-year campaign by the fan activist group the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA), anti-slavery activists, and evenHarry Potter author J.K. Rowling herself, to convince the studio to stop buying cocoa from a company called Behr’s Chocolate, which has a poor record on human rights and child labor.

After years of pressure, Warner Bros. announced that by the end of 2015, “and sooner when possible,” all Harry Potter chocolate products sold at Warner Bros. outlets or their licensed partners will be ethically sourced.

The success is just the latest for the HPA, a group that mobilizes fans to follow the lead of their fictional hero and enact change in the world.



I LOVE it. As the article goes on to say, Harry Potter “stood up for vulnerable people who needed looking out for. For years, the HPA [Harry Potter Alliance] has helped fans focus that moral lens on the violence and abuses of their own world, big and small. In 2010, they raised more than $120,000 to send relief planes to Haiti after the earthquake. They have also collected more than 200,000 books to stock libraries around the world, and called out extreme economic inequality. For legions of followers inspired by Harry’s integrity, buying cocoa produced in exploitation and slapping a Harry Potter label on it was intolerable.”

Here’s what you see when you go to the Harry Potter Alliance homepage:


The Harry Potter Alliance turns fans into heroes. We’re changing the world by making activism accessible through the power of story. Since 2005, we’ve engaged millions of fans through our work for equality, human rights, and literacy.


This Harry Potter fan says, well done. And thanks for the inspiration. And keep it up.

And for the rest of you, Potterheads or not…pass it on, okay? This is a wonderful story, but it could be the beginning of something much larger.

Potterheads (Not) Anonymous–Not Even (Completely) Embarrassed

Hi, I’m Gretchen and I’m a Potterhead. It’s been four years, two months, and five days since I last re-read Book Seven…but I’ve been thinking about a fourth re-read lately.

On Facebook today, the “Trending” story didn’t help any: J.K. Rowling has written a short story about grown-up Harry, Ron and Hermione at a Hogwarts reunion! (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

My quickened pulse and heightened breathing tells me I need help. But I don’t want it. I love being a Potterhead.

“It’s a BOOK, you dodo. What is so all-fired addictive?”

Of course it’s the adventure, the humor, the pretty-darn-good-writing-that-got-better-from-Book-One-with-its-limited-verb-usage-that-turned-into-practically-poetic-stretches-by-Book-Seven (“OK, OK, English teacher, we get it.”). Even more, it’s the astounding depth of the plotting, with tiny details from Book One surfacing as epiphanies in Book Seven. But mostly, it’s the perfectly flawed characters, and the way their flaws clash and mesh, creating their own sub-drama.

I think most of us Potterheads can relate to these reasons. Throw in a little escapism, maybe some Anglophilia, or a deeply-held childhood longing for magical powers–that’s us. But I have one, singular reason for my own Potterheadity that no one else can claim:

My son IS Harry Potter.

Well, at least Harry as played by Daniel Radcliffe. Like Daniel, Mac’s eyes are blue, not green as Harry’s are described. But the unruly black hair, the round glasses, the solemn face, the skinny frame–check.

It wasn’t just his family who saw the resemblance. Someone in a passing car once yelled to Mac, “Hey! Where’s your broom?”

It helped that Mac was exactly the same age as Harry, as the movies came out, one by one. Mac was 11 when “The Sorcerer’s Stone” debuted, with 11 year-old Harry first discovering his wizard identity. I WISH I had a digital version of a photo I have, which shows Mac in a Hogwarts gold-and-burgundy scarf, standing in front of a poster of Daniel Radcliff wearing same. They look as twinned as Fred and George Weasley. Unfortunately, though, I did not own a digital camera then, and I don’t own a scanner.

Two Halloweens in a row, Mac’s “costume” was a bathrobe, a chopstick, and a piece of tape on his glasses.

Around age 17, Mac grew, and stretched, and so became, in my opinion, more what Harry really looked like than how he was depicted by Mr. Radcliffe, whose height remained stubbornly fixed, and whose body, to compensate, became rather blocky. Not unattractive, but not well suited for late-teen Harry, who was always supposed to be on the skinny side.

I did start taking digi-photos in 2007, when Mac was 17, and you can still see some of the resemblance:

Mac 1

 By the time the final movies were made, Mac was in college, no longer turning heads at quite the same rate. But I still liked thinking that he looked more like the “real” Harry.


So call me sentimental. Call me a mom who can’t quite let go. (Can you name me a mom who can?) I love Harry because he’s Harry–but I also love him because he reminds me of my own kid, and all those delicious hours we spent together, reading Harry’s story aloud, discussing plot twists, arguing over clues. We grew up as a family together, Mac and his brother Casey (who does NOT look like Ron, and is much too friendly to be Malfoy) and Harry and I. (My husband was good about it, but never got bit by the Potter bug.)


 How about you? Any movie parallels in your life which give added meaning? Did your brother look like Westly in The Princess Bride? Did your mom look like Princess Leia? Share!