The Fairhaven Chocolate Factory

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F4NT4ST1C 03/04/1991 (Wed) 15:49:30 #79426920

Last year, while strolling through the American South, I learnt of the small town of Fairhaven, a settlement at the mouth of the Blackwater River in Florida. Life there was calm but I could immediately tell there was something off about the place and its people, so I set myself to learn more of what took place in that town. What you’re going to read now is the result of some 8 months of investigations, taking place between June 1990 and February 1991.


The factory in question, still the largest building in the town.

The relevant story begins in 1951, it was this year when the town’s chocolate factory, which even now towers over the rest of the structures in the town, was recorded to have been built. While the building itself was completed by summer that year, it seems it did not start working until two years later, as eyewitness testimonies have consistently noted the lack of activity in the factory, or the area surrounding before the year 1953. It should be mentioned that by the time its operations finally started none of the employees working at the place were locals.

The chocolate plant would start its operations in 1953, and did so without interfering in the town’s affairs up until the year 1956, it is at this time that representatives from the chocolate plant would speak with the town council to propose what would become Fairhaven’s most peculiar characteristic for the next 2 years: they were going to turn the town’s kid population into chocolate tasters.

I could explain what I mean by that exactly, but a John Williams, a resident 9 years of age when the original events took place, did so better than I ever could:

Twice a month trucks would come from the plant, parking in the schoolyard. Inside the vehicles were the chocolate bars, many varieties of them, though we never came to taste more than 7 at a time, whenever it was a “chocolate day” we all felt as if there was nothing in the world to worry about. The envelope of the bars was made deliberately unrecognizable, instead only being marked with letters from A to H, so that they knew what we were eating, but we didn’t, making eating them all the more exciting. After taking a bite we were asked to chew slowly to taste it better and after finishing swallowing the product we were asked to note how it tasted like, what it made us feel, what would we improve or what we liked, as well as other similar stuff. They wrote down all our answers. I sometimes wish I still was there, though that sentiment never lasts long.

All of the above was corroborated by further testimonies of townspeople at 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders at the time of the events.

Others also added how eventually the questions from the factory workers would become more esoteric. They asked if the kids started feeling dizzy or tired shortly after eating the chocolate, or if consuming the product brought up certain emotions in them. Something all testimonies agreed on was that, while good, the chocolates always contained too much sugar. Per one testimony: ”I cannot recall a single day in which we didn’t suggest reducing its amount, the sweet taste prevented us from truly noticing any of the other flavors present and occasionally made us sick.”. This was never changed despite consistent feedback to do so.

This playground “tradition” started with the beginning of 1956’s school year, and would continue up until 1959. Witnesses universally agreed that while initially the bars given were of common flavors (milk, dark or white chocolate), as the school year came by they diversified into a much larger number of exotic varieties, few of those being recognized by the town, as the kids had never tasted something similar before or after. A bitter, or sometimes acidic, taste was said to become common in these new flavors according to some witnesses. Though by their own admission the amount of sugar made recognizing any taste difficult.

At the end of the 1957-58 school year a small drop in overall school grades was noticed throughout the town (I even looked at some old school documents in the town’s archives to corroborate it). This was blamed at the time on the children spending too much time playing and thinking about eating chocolate rather than studying as they should. Many thought the experiment by the chocolate plant would come to an end soon after classes ended, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

F4NT4ST1C 03/04/1991 (Wed) 15:55:17 #71913980

All witnesses agree that during summertime the amount of chocolate distributed increased significantly. As many bars were dispensed the three months of summertime as during the entirety of the school year. The main disagreement amongst witnesses concerned where these products were given to the child population of the area, some claimed that it was done right outside churches, others said that they were given right outside the doors of their houses, most claimed that it was done in various other community gathering areas. It isn’t wild to assume all these claims are truthful.

While consumption obviously increased during this period, most insist that individually the amount of chocolate one was willing to eat was significantly reduced, all the kids had started to get tired of eating it, amongst other issues that arose. Summer would go on mostly without issue, many of the interviewed said that their memories of this time were foggy and unclear. A local newspaper from around July noted that the children were unusually forgetful and prone to mood changes; this was blamed on poor sleeping schedules or various illnesses. The first real confrontation Fairhaven’s townspeople had with the factory would occur due to something entirely different.

In late September a large drainage pipe broke outside the land owned by the plant, pouring large quantities of various chemicals into the stream of the Blackwater. The issue would be solved fairly quickly, but this was the first straw for many of the adults in Fairhaven.

It would be easy to blame the things that occurred from here on now on this leak, it would be reassuring to know that the following events were as a result of an industrial accident rather than deliberate malice. However after looking at environmental reports from the area following the leak, I came to learn that contamination of the territory was so minimal that it basically had no effect, despite what someone may initially think. Still it became the first truly negative incident to the average adult townspeople when it came to the chocolate plant.

When school started again the children had by now learned to not trust the plant’s workers, nor many of the other adults for that matter. Trucks became an increasingly common sight, coming ever more frequently, even when most of the kids had long since refused to participate. This relationship would mark the entirety of the school year. It was clear by early 1960 that the factory workers had also lost interest in trying to feed chocolate to the children, they still came to the schoolyard, but to observe, especially those who used to eat large quantities of the stuff and now suffered from severe brain fog. The kids obviously tried to complain to their betters, but outside a few cases it was all for naught, and the school year came and went without anyone taking even the smallest action against the chocolate plant.

Tensions against the chocolate plant wouldn't truly appear till summer 1959. A neighbor by the name of Louise Corbin wrote a series of strongly-worded letters in the local newspaper urging action against the factory. In these letters Louise claimed that the chocolate factory was at fault for all kind of local problems, many in which its involvement cannot be doubted, like the ever increasing brain fog of the children population, and the resulting increase in repeated grades as a result, others such as the accusations of forcefully keeping Fairhaven’s economy stagnant were more dubious though.

These accusations were apparently enough for the mostly unconvinced adults to finally take action against the chocolate factory through protests, though here is where the different versions of this series of events severely diverge. According to some, the protests never reached more than a few dozen members, others argue that instead there were a few hundred of protestors at any given time — a significant portion of the town’s population if true. Other common disagreements occur over the weather, a widespread claim is that while the protests were on the weather was awfully warm, another common version says that, despite the month, the northern wind made it an awfully cold day, what all versions agree on however, is the heavy rain.

It had already started raining around late July according to various reports, but by September 3rd 1959 the rain had become so intense as to make the Blackwater river flood. The process was as fast as it was unexpected, quickly covering much of the town under a shallow murky brown liquid, it too washed away the protestors, who came back home not achieving much of anything. As the rain continued to fall, a deep dense fog would fall into the town the next day.

My attempts to obtain meteorological data of the town to corroborate this have failed, and information from neighboring settlements don’t support the idea that any of this happened, there wasn’t any registered rain, nor significant enough cloud cover. However this memory is one of the few things all townspeople agree on.

I wish I could say what happened next, but the truth is that I don’t know, nor does anyone else in the town. I must have asked some 100 people, in hopes of trying to get that information, but no person who was alive back then knows anything that transpired that day. I even drove to Tallahassee and Jacksonville in hopes that those who left the place for greener pastures could tell me anything. Nada. The town went to sleep on September 4th, and woke up on the 6th without recalling any event that took place the prior day. The chocolate factory was later found to be empty and abandoned.

This is where this story ends, up until this day Fairhaven has the largest per capita cases of Retrograde Amnesia, the town too has been in a state of economic stagnation since the 60’s, that only now seems to be starting to end.

The biggest enigma of this whole debacle is still the chocolate plant, Stewart’s Chocolate Plant, the moment I started this investigation I put the brunt of my efforts in discovering what the hell was up with that place. The chocolate produced there has not been found anywhere else in the US, nor any other countries for that matter, attempting to research owners, suppliers, or customers only lead to dead ends. The entire investigation into the company should itself be called a giant dead end, since it is as if it didn’t exist.

I’m usually not one prone to believing most conspiracy theories, but with cases like this, there is seldom any other explanation.

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