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1947: ‘Don’t be a sucker! Don’t buy 8-cent bars!’

The Story

Is it a legitimate protest about the rising price of chocolate bars or is it a communist threat? Young people informally affiliated with the National Federation of Labour Youth flood the streets bearing placards protesting the three-cent candy bar price hike. But allegations spread that the National Federation is actually a communist front and Canadian youth participating in the boycott are being unwittingly duped into becoming radical Marxists. CBC News Roundup gets to the bottom of the unexplained price hike in an interview with chocolate bar manufacturer Moirs.

Medium: Radio
Program: CBC News Roundup
Broadcast Date: May 6, 1947
Guest: G.S. Moffat
Announcer: Larry Henderson
Reporter: Ken Bullock
Duration: 2:54
Photo: City of Edmonton Archives

Did You know?

• The price of chocolate bars rose 60 per cent on April 25, 1947. Young people on Vancouver Island protested outside confectionary shops. The protest gained steam and spread across the country.

• On April 30, 1947, approximately 200 children stormed the Victoria legislature demanding action. A day later in Toronto, students from three different secondary schools staged a mass protest. In Fredericton, children combined their sugar rations to make large masses of homemade fudge.

• A cross-country protest was planned for May 3. The protest was quelled, however, by the Toronto Telegram's accusations that the National Federation of Labour Youth was a communist front determined to "plant a few of the seeds of Marxism." The National Federation of Labour Youth was subsequently dismantled.

• Some candy bar manufacturers claimed that the price hike was attributable to a disease attacking the cocoa bean plants in West Africa. Others explained the jump by pointing to increasing production costs and fewer wartime subsidies. In this interview, G.S. Moffat said the rise was in part because "devastated countries in Europe are clamouring for more and more cocoa beans as they realize the high nutritional value of chocolate."

• For a radio clip on the protest that was held by high school students in Toronto on May 1, listen here.

Also on May 6:

1859: Robert Hobson of the McClintock expedition finds a cairn with a paper signed by Fitzjames and Crozier, dated April 25, 1848, confirming their disaster. It is the last log of  the ill-fated Franklin expedition, sent to discover the Northwest Passage.

1890: Fire destroys the asylum at Longue-Pointe, Quebec, killing 70 inmates.

1954: The US House of Representatives approves joining Canada in construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1993: Robert Bourassa's government passes Bill 86, permitting English signs inside stores, as long as they are smaller than those outside.


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