Chocolate Wars

  • by Deborah Cadbury
  • Narrated by Deborah Cadbury
  • 13 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

With a cast of characters that wouldnt be out of place in a Victorian novel, Chocolate Wars tells the story of the great chocolatier dynasties, through the prism of the Cadburys. Chocolate was consumed unrefined and unprocessed as a rather bitter, fatty drink for the wealthy elite until the late 19th century, when the Swiss discovered a way to blend it with milk and unleashed a product that would conquer every market in the world.
Thereafter, one of the great global business rivalries unfolded as each chocolate maker attempted to dominate its domestic market and innovate new recipes for chocolate that would set it apart from its rivals. The contest was full of dramatic contradictions: The Cadburys were austere Quakers who found themselves making millions from an indulgent product; Kitty Hershey could hardly have been more flamboyant yet her husband was moved by the Cadburys tradition of philanthropy. Each was a product of their unique time and place yet they shared one thing: they want to make the best chocolate in the world.

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What the Critics Say

"This tale of capitalist rivalry mixed with Quaker values makes for a very sweet journey." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The World of Chocolate

I chose to read this book when I noted the author was from the famous British Cadbury Chocolate family. I remember all the fuss in the news in 2009 when the American Kraft foods mounted a hostile takeover of the British Cadbury Chocolate Company. The British government was powerless to stop the international business deal. The British have no laws protecting their own companies for hostile takeovers. Within weeks a company that had taken 186 years to build and which had flourished on the Quaker principles of altruism had been abandoned to the global corporate goals of short term profits.

In the early 19th century 4000 Quakers families were running banks and companies –driven into the business world by the rules forbidding them from serving in Parliament, the armed forces and professions such as law or into higher education. Wedgwood’s china ware, Clark’s Shoes, Bryant & May’s matches, Huntley and Palmers biscuit’s all helped to shape the courses of the industrial revolution. Quaker Banks flourish as business and people could trust them to be honest and fair. The Quaker’s governed by their own strict standards such as the Quaker belief that wealth creation should fund social projects, that reckless debt was shameful and the quality of the product was paramount. I was particularly interested in the discussion of how the care of the poor shifted from the religious group, such as the Quakers and other in the 19th century, to the government after World War One (20th century).

In 1861 Birmingham, England Richard and George Cadbury inherited their fathers chocolate drink business. It was unprofitable. The brothers invested in new equipment from their Dutch competitors Van Houten and set about to design new products. The rest is history.
Deborah Cadbury tells of the intense competition between chocolate produces in Switzerland, mainly Nestle and the American Milton Hershey Company. In the 1880’s Cadbury spread to Australian and the West Indies, the Middle East and South East Asia. The Cadbury’s followed their Quaker rules with affordable housing for their employees, landscaped parks and philanthropic projects. Hershey (from a Mennonite family) in Pennsylvania and Roundtree in York followed suit. In 1919 a titanic struggle between British and Swiss producers began. In 1910 Cadbury was Britain’s largest manufacture of cocoa and chocolate.

The author tells of the accusation by a newspaper that Cadbury’s profited from the slave trade in Africa. This was adherent to their Quaker beliefs and they had fought against slavery. The Cadbury’s sued for libel and they won the case.

Deborah Cadbury is a perfectly diligent chronicler of the story of chocolate in the 19th century. She spends more time on the history than on the product creations. She does discuss the Cadbury takeover of JS Fry and Co and Schweppes. The author gives a blow by blow account of Kraft’s hostile takeover of Cadbury. The author does stress the lost to the business world of a large family business operating under the Quaker values.

Cadbury’s fate is a sad one but all too common in our current era of global conglomerates. The author was the narrator of the story. If you are interested in social and business history or in chocolate this is a great book to read.

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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Wrong Title

I love history and I love food, so I thought this would be a great book about the history & production of chocolate. I also hoped to gain insight of the history of the great chocolate companies, their products and their fight for the world market.

Unfortunately, this booked constantly came back to the Cadbury family time and time and time again. It was a book about the Cadbury family that mentioned the other great chocolate companies so very little.

It was a slow read, and I did not learn all that much.
Sorry, but I was disappointed.
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- Joseph

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-29-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios