Kraft Foods Bids for Cadbury

September 8, 2009 at 8:01 am Leave a comment

cadbury creme egg chocolate candyKraft offered $16.1 billion for Cadbury’s confection business: the purple wrapped chocolate bars and Creme Eggs, Trident and Dentyne gum, Halls cough drops. Cadbury said no, but it’s just a matter of time. Hershey and Nestle are in talks about possible mergers, and Kraft is regrouping for a possible hostile takeover bid.

Consolidation. That’s been the name of the candy game for the last 30 years, and now we’re watching the end game. Cadbury is too sweet a takeover target: small, profitable, focused on confection. So some one will work it out, and we’ll all continue with one less independent candy company. It’s great for the shareholders, evidently. But is it good for candy?

Cadbury, Mars, and Hershey were all begun over a century ago as family candy businesses. Americans Hershey and Mars were relative late-comers; in 1824, John Cadbury opened a shop in Birmingham, England selling tea, coffee and chocolate, and his sons started making their own chocolates in the 1860s. Frank Mars was selling candy at the age of 19, and opened a candy factory in Tacoma, Washington in the 1911. Milton Hershey got his start making caramels, and began making chocolate for coating in 1894.

Somehow these family businesses kept their traditions, their continuity, in tact through all the commercial and cultural challenges of the twentieth century. There is something sad about the prospect of another round of mergers that continues the trend toward homogeneous, interchangeable products. Kraft is a cheese company, in its genes. Kraft became a food industry giant due to the insatiable demand for packaged Macaroni and Cheese, introduced in the 1930s. They didn’t get into candy until the 1990s. For Kraft, Cadbury is a potential boost to the bottom line, nothing more.

So, another round of cuts, of eliminating marginal brands and re-formulating others. We won’t notice the changes, perhaps, but there will be fewer choices, fewer new ideas and new tastes.

But let us not forget all those candy makers who went before, the inventors, the experimentors, the small and large shops and factories that transformed sugar, chocolate, nuts and flavorings into hundreds, no, thousands of kinds of candy. Here are some names long gone:

  • American Candy Company of Milwaukee, makers of Rex Wafers.
  • Package Confectionery Company of Boston, makers of Sugar Moons.
  • Lewis Brothers of Newark, makers of Polly Pops on a Stick.
  • Pennsylvania Chocolate Company, makers of Zatek Milk Chocolate Eatmores.
  • Novelty Candy Company, makers of Tom, Dick and Harry Kisses (“the kiss you can’t afford to miss”).

And hundreds of others.

More: Wall Street Journal is an excellent source for detailed coverage; see the Sept. 8, 2009 article Cadbury Sour on Kraft Bid

Entry filed under: Current Candy News. Tags: , , , , , .

The Changing American Candy-Scape Where is Cadbury?

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Welcome to Candy Professor

Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

(C) Samira Kawash

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