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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.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to Chocolate Wars again? Why?
I have listened to this book more then any other book in my life. I am a chocolate lover and history buff and this book has so much to it and all told from and by a Cadbury. Deborah Cadbury did such an amazing job on this book. No only will it give you the history of chocolate from the start of cadbury it brings you right up to date to when cadury was sold to Kraft. So much history and such a well thought out book.
Who was your favorite character and why?
all of them as this is a history of the chocolate world and the industry so many of us love.
What does Deborah Cadbury bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Yes, because unlike so many other audible books this one was written and is being told you by a Cadbury. Deborah also has an amazing voice and tells you not only her families history but her countries history from the start of the cocoa bean in the UK to the land of chocolate in Swiss and across the Pond to chocolate town and the from Chicago to NJ and the Mars family to the company that would take her families business away Kraft.
If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
Chocolate wars history of an Industry
Any additional comments?
Even for some strange reason your not a chocolate lover but want to know some if the vast history of the UK or the Mars family or Milton Hershey or even Industry as a whole you will love this book. Plus Deborah has an amazing British Voice with such passion on this subject you will love this book. This is my go to book when I am in between things to listen to. Just love it
2 of 2 people found this review helpful