Heather's Monthly Articles
Chocolate: The Cadbury Controversy
February 2015


British chocolate bars.
Credit: Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Oh, for the love of chocolate! The importers of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bars, and other signature products such as Flakes, Maltesers, Kit-Kats and Toffee Crisp, agreed recently to stop importing all Cadbury’s chocolate that was made overseas. Not since 100,000 lbs. of tea were chucked into the Boston Harbor has there been such a to-do.

The Hershey Company, which holds the license to manufacture Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate in the United States, recently struck the deal with Let’s Buy British Imports to supposedly “prevent consumers from being confused or misled when they see a product package that is confusingly similar to a Hershey name or trade dress”. At least, according to a Hershey’s representative, who has obviously never been told that using the word “confusing” twice in one sentence is, well, to put it bluntly, confusing.

Chocolate-loving British ex-pats aren’t buying it. Nor are they buying the Hershey manufactured Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bars anymore. Not that discerning chocolate lovers did in the first place. And maybe there’s the rub.

"It will seem more likely to anyone who has ever tasted Hershey's own brand products and its approximations of Cadbury's that they are instead preventing consumers from buying products which taste much better than Hershey's own," speculated The Telegraph’s Andrew Baker.


Or, to put it simply (and you really must try that sometime, Mr. Baker), Hershey's is afraid. They’re afraid that if someone not familiar with the taste of a bar of real Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (i.e., one made in the UK) should inadvertently get their hands on one, they’ll never go back. As one furious on-line objector to the ban, Harry Mupph, put it, “the wrappers of Hershey’s candy bars taste better than the product inside.”

Never one to let a world-shattering event go unexplored, The New York Times tasked up-and-coming cub reporter Tatiana Schlossberg with the job of investigating the difference between a Hershey’s Cadbury chocolate bar and an imported Cadbury’s chocolate bar. The granddaughter of JFK conducted an “informal blind taste test” and came to the conclusion that the Brits had reason to be upset.

“Chocolate in Britain has a higher fat content; the first ingredient listed on a British Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (plain milk chocolate) is milk," Schlossberg wrote in her assessment of the two same-named products. “In an American-made Cadbury’s bar, the first ingredient is sugar."

Unlike U.K.-manufactured Cadbury bars, American-made Cadbury bars contain preservatives. (Of course, perhaps if the American-made bars tasted better, there’d be no need to prolong their shelf life with preservatives, as they’d be flying off the shelves faster than Usain Bolt.)

Schlossberg also concluded that “the British Dairy Milk was slightly fudgier, allowing for a creamier taste and texture. The American Dairy Milk bar left a less pleasing coating and somewhat of a stale aftertaste.”

In other words, to once again quote on-line commentator Harry Mupph, one product has a “creamy, tasty goodness”, while the other is “whatever the opposite of creamy, tasty goodness is.”

It’s hard to pass a shelf in a supermarket or convenience store without being accosted in some way by a Hershey-manufactured product. “First comes love, then comes sharing...” is the Hershey motto. Surely there’s room to share a little space on the shelf for those of us who grew up expecting "a glass and a half of full cream dairy milk in every half pound"? Instead it seems the Hershey folk have taken the lyrics to my favorite Flake jingle a little too literally.

“...tastes like chocolate never tasted before” was meant to be a good thing.

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