No sugar coating it

Activists up in arms over 'Nuclear Chocolate'

HOLLYWOOD — Now that a nuclear arms race has erupted between India and Pakistan, it’s no time to be making light of things that go boom.

So say anti-nuke activists who are upset about a new candy bar tied in with the release of Touchstone Pictures’ “Armageddon.”

The “Nuclear Chocolate” candy bar, made by Nestle, bears the legend “The Chocolate Chain Reaction” surrounding a symbol that resembles an exploding planet. The black-and-green wrapper also features the “Armageddon” logo.

“It desensitizes not only children but adults to the horrors of nuclear danger,” said Jerry Rubin, director of the L.A. chapter of Alliance for Survival, who attended a demonstration Thursday outside Nestle’s offices in Glendale holding a sign saying “Don’t Sugarcoat the Nuclear Issue.”

“I find this very, very offensive,” Rubin said. “The nuclear issue is really serious, especially now.”

Fellow activist Sue Hammill, a 64-year-old Granada Hills resident who attended the demo, said children are “capable of understanding when something is very bad, but when it’s connected to something fun, like a chocolate bar, it might be confusing.”

The marketing for the candy bar is “tasteless,” said Polly Perlman, environmental chairwoman of the Women’s Intl. League for Peace & Freedom, L.A. chapter, and the children who buy it “are going to be inured to the fact that nuclear weapons are horrific.”

Rosemarie White, a member of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, said the pairing of “an emotionally loaded term with a product that is designed to make people feel good causes a psychic numbing, where people are numbed to the ramifications of the issue.”

Although Nestle officials declined to meet with the demonstrators, the company issued a statement saying it “in no way is attempting to offend or desensitize the issue.”

“The word ‘nuclear’ is used in a fun, ‘cool’ manner to communicate the product’s ‘energy,’ ” wrote spokeswoman Tricia Bowles, who explained that the chocolate bar contains “popping candy that reacts or pops” in the mouth when eaten.

” ‘Nuclear’ is an expression, a common synonym among today’s youth for words like ‘electric’ and ‘awesome,’ ” she said, adding that the product is “intended to deliver fun and excitement.”

A Disney spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment.