President Carter jawboned his way into the nation's leading chocolate candy bar yesterday.
A Kansas City radio reporter, who had obviously given careful thought to the wording of his question, told the president that the Hershey Corp. planned a 9.3 percent price increase, and asked whether "you will try to put the bite on the Hershey Bar."
"If the report is true, then I would disapprove it strongly," Carter responded during a nationally televised news conference.
The president then quickly amended his remarks to note that he did not know whether such an increase would violate his anti-inflation price standard - which calls for price increases to be at least 1/2 percentage point less than the average price increases for the same product in 1976-77.
Out on East Chocolate Avenue in Hershey, pa., candyman James Edris, the company spokesman, insisted, "our increases are in accord with the president's guidelines."
Edris said that what Hershey folks still refer to as "the old nickel bar" will cost 25 cents in most stores by January. Hershey is raising the wholesale price of its milk chocolate, almond and Mr. Goodbar products, but is also putting more chocolate in them, increasing the size from 1.05 ouce to 1.2 ounce.
The price per ounce goes up 9.3 percent, he added. That's within the basic guideline and also less than the 9.5 percent increase allowed for companies whose costs have soared.
Imported African cocoa beans cost 3 times what they did four years ago Edris said, and that's not peanuts.
Chocolate costs so much that people have stopped eating it, the Hersey man admitted, reminding the peanut-farmer president that Hershey's best-selling candy bar now is Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.