SINS Book Review: Chocolate Wars

Chocolate Wars, written by Deborah Cadbury – a BBC reporter and a descendant of the famous chocolate making clan; is an interesting tour through the history of one of the most popular CPG products – the common chocolate bar.

Cadbury, Rowntree, Fry’s, Mackintosh, Lindt and Nestle. They are not just well known brands but the names of the pioneers of the chocolate trade, many of them Quakers from the United Kingdom.

Chocolate Wars follows the blossoming industry from the Cadbury’s struggling business outside Birmingham in the 1820’s, through its recovery and expansion based on product innovation and international expansion and its establishment of an idealistic workers town at Bournville.

The cocoa bean was first marketed as a chocolate drink and this product launched a series of innovation and espionage that spanned Western Europe and reached the shores of North America with the enterprising Milton Hershey.

While “drinking chocolate” was popular, the advent of the chocolate bar drove consumption to new highs, supported by increasing automation of the production process. Much of the book is dedicated to chronicling the race to get a superior chocolate bar to market.

Parts of the book are more focused on understanding how the Quaker philosophy and religion permeated the businesses and can be easy skipped over in the interest of getting to the story of the brands themselves.

As well, the book, which was written prior to the acquisition of Cadbury by Kraft, does include an opinionated section about the merger that takes away somewhat from the overall story, which for the most part portrays the Cadbury’s in a balanced light.

This book is a great way to get to know our industry a little better and understand the interwoven history of some of CPGs best known and most loved brands.

A must read for anyone in the confectionary business and an insightful read for anyone in the CPG / Retail industry.


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