13 June 2008

Chocs away

If my mum hadn’t already mentioned her to me the other day, Jo on Hadar’s recommendation of Annie Murray would certainly have seen me beetling up the Amazon to fill my shopping cart.
Jo says:

“So another day moored up and a chance for me to read the rest of my book by Annie Murray, ‘Where Earth Meets Sky’. It’s a brilliant book to read, like all of her books, if you like a bit of romance, mystery and scandal. I have all of Annie Murray’s books and love reading them over and over again.”

A pretty unequivocal thumbs-up from Jo and although this type of novel is not my usual fare, I did enjoy my first taste of Annie’s writing with The Chocolate Girls. This is a tale of intermingled lives in the run up to war, with the Cadbury factory at Bournville the one constant in everyone’s increasingly fractured existence. It was only when I finished the book that I noticed it was sponsored by Cadbury, which immediately threw into doubt the picture of enlightenment and philanthropy that had been painted of the firm and the family. Having said that, they were Quakers and anyone who’s happy to sell chocolate misshapes for cheaps is all right by me. And, in fact, Annie pretty much has it spot on if the Cadbury website is anything to go by:

It was John Cadbury, a young Quaker, who first set things in motion when he opened a shop in Birmingham, UK in 1824. His original focus was the trade of tea and coffee, but he soon spotted a new opportunity in cocoa beverages and laid the foundations for Cadbury's move into chocolate and then confectionery.

Cadbury's was a business founded on values and a sense of social responsibility. As a Quakers the Cadbury family believed tea, coffee, cocoa beverages could serve as an alternative to alcohol, seen to be a cause of poverty and deprivation amongst the working classes.
More broadly, they were active across other Quaker campaigns for 'justice, equality and social reform, putting an end to poverty and deprivation.' For example, Cadbury were involved in the early anti-slavery movement, calls for better housing and sanitation, and inner city smoke abatement.

Across UK society Quakers were excluded from universities (which were closely tied to the established church) and therefore entry into the professions. They were also unwilling to enter the military due to their pacifist principles, so turned their energies and talents towards business and social reform. You could say the legal profession's loss was confectionery's gain...

So starting with cocoa hand-ground with a mortar and pestle in the back room of his shop, then renting a former malthouse, John Cadbury became a manufacturer of drinking chocolate and cocoa, laying the foundation of Cadbury's business of creating brands people love."

I would also urge you to look at the History of our Brands page. Some of these things have been around for absolutely yonks and yonks, like Maynards Wine Gums, launched in 1909. So the question is, the old working boats that delivered chocolate crumb etc...were they also taking away 20 tonnes of Bertie Bassetts or butty loads of Baby Bumper Jelly Babies? They kept that quiet didn’t they? This is what I call a load. Forget coal, forget paper, forget aluminium, I’d have been holding out for carrying Crunchies, thank you very much. Or Flakes...or maybe Creme Eggs..

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