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When economic times are rough, consumers scale back. New cars, family vacations, home improvement projects, computer equipment, season tickets, fancy clothes, jewelry, toys, CDs--these are typically some of the first expenditures to go. But it is only human nature to want to keep a few enjoyable treats. So, what doesn't get cut are the little indulgences --magazines, lipstick, bubble bath, movies, and oh yes, chocolate.
"Chocolate has always been able to withstand an economy that's not 100 percent healthy, but now with all the health aspects of chocolate being touted by independent, non-industry-funded research, it's helping to give people the green light to try the good quality, darker varieties," says Gary Guittard, president and CEO of Guittard Chocolate Company, based in Burlingame, Calif. "Besides, in everybody's life, there's room for enjoyment. And it's being discovered that people who live longer are often people who make time to enjoy the little things."
And so, for a couple of years now, the chocolate industry has been immune to the hits that many others have taken. While the world of automobiles, airlines, computers and fashion have downgraded and downsized pricing in an effort to attract and/or keep customers, chocolate has actually become higher-end mad more luxurious. (It is the darker chocolate, with higher cacao content, and therefore, more expensive and more upscale, …