Chocolate is happiness. An affordable luxury or so I thought until the COVID 19 lockdown which turned my love of chocolate into an addiction.
My name is Angela Finn, and I am a “Haighsaholic”. I have a Haigh’s use disorder.
There are Haighsaholics in every city and regional town in Australia.
Men, women and children seeking comfort and escapism as they devour premium quality chocolates made by the oldest family-owned chocolate -maker in Australia.
Before the COVID 19 lockdown, I was your occasional Haigh’s chocolate consumer – enjoyed as treat on a visit to the Sydney CBD, or as a gift.
But the lockdown brought a sudden rapid change to my lifestyle. I was now working from home plus living with my 87-year-old mother with dementia.
This unexpected change and increase in responsibility wreaked havoc on my stress levels. Urgently needing to release the pressure valve, I turned to Haigh’s as a reward. A pleasure that signalled freedom.
Escaping from the confines of the home, a 30-minute round trip during my lunch break to the Haigh’s shop was utter joy.
The anticipation of the smell and taste of Haigh’s chocolates drove my desire as I weaved in and out of traffic. Every red light was agony.
With my adrenalin soaring, my arrival at the store brought overwhelming relief.
Upon purchase, I’d open the quality paper bag and raise it to my nose to smell the sweet aroma of the chocolates. The intoxicated feeling was instant.
The act of drawing each chocolate out of the bag, examining perfection, and then “shoving” it into my mouth for a rapid “hit” of chocolate filled every inch of my body and mind with ecstasy.
But with my finances, cravings, and waistline soaring out of control, my behaviour and relationship with Haighs took a nasty turn.
I began to resent Haigh’s, particularly John Haigh (deceased) who as the grandson of the founder Alfred E Haigh, transformed Haigh’s into a premium quality chocolate, achieving international acclaim.
To John’s credit, he developed the “high-end’ Haigh’s in-store experience. Coupled with a marketing approach that oozes exclusivity. A style – I believe – not only drives incredible sales but fuels addiction.
Now, while I admit that I am responsible for my Haigh’s addiction, the behaviour of Haigh’s during the lockdown period caused a bad taste in my mouth.
Their COVID 19 safe policy of insisting their customers pay by card rather than cash might seem a responsible thing to do, but for me it was not.
A little tap, tap, tap by the card day after day made spending too easy. Plus, I couldn’t hide my spending. The impending fear of being ‘found out’ was agonizing. It was but a matter of time before my husband would view the credit card statements and reveal my addiction.
What really infuriated me however was when Haigh’s cancelled their “free tastings”. How rude!
These so-called COVID 19 safe practices by Haigh’s caused me to question my relationship with the world-renowned chocolatier.
Was my relationship with Haigh’s one-sided? It sure felt like the time, energy, and money I invested in Haigh’s was not reciprocated.
And, was Haigh’s using the guise of COVID 19 to save money and drive sales? Plus take advantage of the vulnerability of their customers during the pandemic?
Like, why didn’t Haigh’s provide their consumers with any financial relief during the lockdown by way of special sales or offers?
The only decent special available during lockdown was the reduced prices on Easter egg products following the Easter break.
In one month, I ate around twenty-five packets of broken easter eggs and numerous packs of mini chocolate eggs until stocks were gone.
It took me 4 months to acknowledge that my mood swings and dependency on Haigh’s chocolates were out-of-control.
After reading books about addiction, I decided to go ‘cold turkey’. I ceased my Haigh’s consumption completely plus adopted new stress management strategies.
I won’t go into the “how”, but I can reveal that I am 6 kgs lighter than I was at the end of August.
It wasn’t easy. But it feels good to regain control over my decisions around chocolate consumption. I feel happier, freer.
I am however still cheesed off at Haigh’s.
While the “free chocolate tastings have resumed, it really annoys me that the tastings rarely include the “Cabinet chocolates”. These are the top-shelf, incredibly expensive chocolates that tempt consumers behind the luxurious curved glass cabinet.
If I was Head of Customer Experience at Haigh’s, I would introduce a customer loyalty program full of delightful rewards. Which includes free tastings from the curved glass cabinet, plus monthly specials.
As well as a help-line counselling service for Haighsaholics during stress-filled situations like a COVID 19 lockdown!