New Delhi: Ever
wondered what went on behind that sinful brown bar of Cadbury's
chocolate to make it a gastronomic legion and a cult in itself for
millions of chocolate lovers in India and the world?
The story of Cadbury's chocolate is a family soap flavoured with
high business drama, strict moral ethics, religion and a
destiny-defying struggle, says a new book chronicling Cadbury's
"Chocolate Wars" (published by Harper Press).
The book has been penned by Deborah Cadbury, a daughter of the
Tucked away in the heart of of Birmingham's dismal foggy Bridge
Street in the mid-19th century was a small Victorian novelty - a
cocoa works that was approached by a dirt road. The factory was a
symbol of fragrant rich living in the grimy backstreets.
One early morning in 1861, brothers George and Richard Cadbury
hurried to their chocolate to address a harsh reality. There was a
crisis in the family. The chocolate factory, owned by their father
John Cadbury, was in decline. The family firm was haemorrhaging
money and it threatened to go down under if the brothers did not
marshall resources, says the Cadbury scion in her family business
The trade in British chocolate - made from the wonder bean
acquired from the new world (cocoa pods from America )- was
controlled by barely 40 confectionary traders.
There was one last hope for the brothers who had each inherited
4,000 pounds from their mother. Determined to save the chocolate
factory, they staked their inheritance, Deborah Cadbury says.
But business foundered. Cocoa, then processed only as a drink by
the Cadbury's, failed to appeal to the general British palate.
Critics found it loaded with froth and "bad to taste". Something
vital was missing.
Adding to their woes, a rival in Bristol, Fry and Sons, which
owned one of the largest cocoa works in the world, had introduced
a novelty to the Victorian market.
"They experimented with mixing cocoa powder with its bi-product,
the excess cocoa fat. Whether by accident or design, they hit upon
a way of blending the two ingredients with sugar to make a rich
creamy paste. The concoction was then pressed in a mould and left
to set. The result was the first chocolate bar in Britain,"
Cadbury recalls, quoting from her family book.
But Fry & Sons hit back with a "new minty cream". The
chocolate-covered mint sticks captured the market by storm.
The Cadbury business nearly died. Persistent George Cadbury
considered one last reckless gamble, the writer says. He sailed to
the Netherlands and purchased a new cocoa press that the Dutch
were using to make a smoother chocolate.
The drink bore fruit when the brothers launched an advertisement
blitz around the slogan, "Cadbury's Cocoa, Absolutely Pure,
Therefore Best. No Chemicals used," the book documents.
By the autumn of 1868 the campaign gained momentum. George and
Richard Cadbury went ahead to create an assortment of eatable
solid chocolates and "packaged them in an aromatic fancy box" to
woo high-end buyers. It worked. The business flourished for nearly
However, Cadbury's confectionary business, which was valued at 5
billion (British) pounds in the first decade of 2000, witnessed a
turnaround when in 2010 American giant Kraft Food acquired the
company in one of the most hotly debated takeovers in British
history, Cadbury says.
The combined entity Cadbury-Kraft commanded a worldwide business
of 37 billion pounds, winning an ongoing chocolate war, says
One of the reasons why John, George and Richard Cadbury - the
early pioneers of the brand - had to fight harder than the rest
may lie in the spiritual philosophy of 19th century British
They belonged to a spiritual order known as the Quakers or the
Society of Friends, which believed in the uplift of the poor and
needy. It imposed a strict set of dos and dont's on trade
practices, stressing on employees' welfare, quality, rejection of
display of opulence.
George Cadbury had once said "he wanted to build a model chocolate
factory in the middle of great big sinful city". The Cadbury's
spirit of philanthropy did not match their tardy profits in the
initial years, the book says, sowing the seeds of the events to