The Changing Tastes Of Cadbury ChocolateBy
The British are in an uproar about Kraft’s recent bid of US$19.5bn to take over their beloved Cadbury. They fear their treasured English treats will be turned into revolting American chocolate.
There’s a lot British chocolate lovers don’t already know. Cadbury has already been turned into ‘revolting’ American chocolate in the United States; in Southeast Asia, into bitter Malaysian chocolate; and in Australia and New Zealand, into sweet Australian chocolate. Cadbury has local footholds in many of the countries which constitute the former British Empire, places like South Africa, India, Kenya; and even in countries which weren’t a part, like Morocco and Egypt. The cacao beans may be imported from some equatorial nation, but the milk, the sugar, the nuts, the fruits, and any other artificial flavors and colors are sourced locally.
This go-local strategy differs markedly from that of the American chocolate giant Hershey. Up through my twenties, the famous Hershey Bar tasted the same wherever you tried it, for the very simple reason that Hershey products were only manufactured in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The Hershey strategy has since changed, and now various Hershey candies are manufactured in the People’s Republic of China for sale in other Asian countries. The Chinese products taste nearly identical to their American counterparts. I guess it’s not hard to duplicate the flavor of bland and bitter chocolate bars which only utilize 11% cocoa solids, the lowest I’ve ever seen in a confectionary market leader of an industrialized country.
I wasn’t fully aware of Cadbury growing up. Dairy Milks were there, but not popular. In the 1970’s, Cadbury products were put out in the US by a company named Peter Paul, more famous for its Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars than for handling the US operations of Cadbury. Cadbury only started to register in my mind as a brand when I spent a year abroad in the UK in the late 1980’s. Anyone resident in the UK who’s not lactose intolerant will eventually have his or her mouth intersect with a Cadbury bar. My mouth conditioned from years of eating Hershey bars, I found the creamier and subtler taste of the British Dairy Milks strange.
I didn’t give Cadbury any more thought until I went back to the United States and tried a Dairy Milk there. It had a completely different taste. By that time, Cadburys in the US were made under license by Hershey. If I knew then what I know now, I’d have realized there was no way the British and American versions could taste the same. There are 140 worldwide suppliers of cocoa beans and derivative products such as cocoa butter and Hershey buys from all of them. With that many cacao beans floating about it’d be almost impossible for Hershey to use the identical beans prepared in the identical way in their version.
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