Cadbury, Deborah. Chocolate Wars. The 150- year rivalry between the world’s greatest chocolate makers. Douglas & McIntyre. 2010.
To use the manufacturing of chocolate as a focus for viewing history is in my opinion an awesome approach. I would love to have had this research resource when I was teaching history to my high school students. What a great way to ‘sweeten up a dry topic’. The author, a Cadbury (no less), has done a great job of giving us a well researched account of how the development of the chocolate industry touched the whole world. Of particular interest to me was the Quaker connection that brought high moral values to economic practices and social responsibilities of the industry, especially in Great Britain. Here is history and economics with a different flavour!
The story of George and Richard Cadbury the founders of the chocolate dynasty is traced briefly. Their Quaker values were reflected in the way they developed and carried on their business. They were the third generation of tradesmen and their grandfather Richard Tapper Cadbury is credited with “leading the family in a new direction of shop-keepers” (8) in Birmingham. They became leaders in the manufacturing industry. Quaker values were the work of George Fox and expressed in “Doctrines, Practice and Discipline”. (39)
In ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures chocolate drinks were used in religious rituals and chocolate was considered “food of the Gods”. (27) In Great Britain workers in any kind of manufacturing were referred to as “wretched little victims of the work houses”. (35) Competition was fierce for those in the chocolate industry. Quakers were not into advertisement on principle. When it was finally accepted as part of business the focus was on quality of product not appeal. Attractive packaging was acceptable.
Henri Nestle and Rodolphe Lundt were Swiss chocolate manufacturers.
In the 1870s Cadbury became involved in social issues that would improve the lives of their factory workers who lived in the slums. They built a factory outside the city in a garden-like setting. They even built cottages on plots of land surrounding the factory that could be rented and even purchased for a reasonable Cadbury financed plan. In Great Britain the ‘chocolate competitors’ were Cadbury, Fry, and Rowntree. By 1881 Cadbury had become an international organization.
Milton Hershey began his ‘rise to fame’ in Pennsylvania. After losing his wealth and health he ended up starting over again in New York where he built a chocolate empire.
Back in Britain George Cadbury’s model community called Bournville became a template for other entrepreneurs who had a concern for their employees. Milton Hershey established such a community in Pennsylvania at Deny Church. George Cadbury and Joseph Rowntree became philanthropists. As part of his political opposition to the Boer War George Cadbury became an owner of a newspaper. This was a costly decision and distracted him from his philanthropic work.
The Cadburys and the Rowntrees became partners of influence causing social reform and striving for peace among the nations. Meanwhile the ‘chocolate war’ continued. In 1914 world attention became focused on WW1. It brought not only much physical suffering but also moral struggles of huge proportions. Pacifism faced very severe tests.
On October 20, 1922, George Cadbury passed away. He was mourned and honoured by many thousands. In America Milton Hershey turned his $60 million company stock into a trust fund “to benefit the orphan boys of the Hershey Industrial School”. (230)
In the 1920s a new company (Mar-O-Bar) owned by Forrest Mars sprang up in America which became a major competitor in the chocolate war. In 1974 this company dethroned Hershey as the leading competitor in America. Towards the end of the 20th century two general food giants took center stage on the world scene, Kraft and General Foods. Cadbury became a ‘casualty’ of Kraft hostile takeover. This ended a 180 year history of Cadbury.
The trusts that were established by the Quaker ‘chocolotiers’ in Britain remained. With demise of Quaker driven corporations there seemed to be a corresponding decline of the Quaker movement.