Posts tagged ‘cadbury’

Where is Cadbury?

cheese or chocolateKraft returns for round two in the Cadbury takeover bid, defending its offer of $16.7 billion by slamming Cadbury’s business prospects. According to Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld, Cadbury will have “limited opportunities” to create value on its own. Cadbury is the laggard in the class; he’s done his best, poor thing, but now its time to turn it all over to the professionals.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Cadbury’s workers seem to be rooting for Kraft. The Cadbury factory in Keynsham, England, is slated to be closed and its jobs moved to Poland. Seems Cadbury does have some ideas for “creating value,” or at least increasing profitability (is that the same thing?) The workers believe that Kraft will somehow view the historic factory more sentimentally, and keep Cadbury chocolate in England where it belongs.

The factory in Keynsham dates to 1919; until now, Cadbury chocolate has been English chocolate, made in England. But globalization is making such “local” manufacture increasingly obsolete. U.S.-born CEO Todd Stitzer hatched the plan to close the factory back in 2007 as part of a larger market strategy. So an American is in charge of English chocolate manufacture to be moved to Poland. Where is Cadbury, anyway?

Chocolate for eating, like the chocolate bars at the heart of Cadbury, Hershey and the rest, can be formulated to many kinds of tastes. When candy was local, national chocolates were made to conform to national tastes and supplies. British preferred additional sweetness; American (Hershey’s) chocolate had a peculiar sour milky taste; the Swiss perfected a smooth balance of flavors. And Polish chocolate? Alas, the aftermath of the cold war seems to have produced a waxy, flavorless product.

Kraft promises “efficiencies,” and added value, from consolidating their existing candy lines with Cadbury. When a global powerhouse buys an English chocolate factory and moves its production to Poland to make candy that will be sold everywhere in the world, what will that taste like?

More: Wall Street Journal, “Factory Town Roots for Kraft in Candy Fight” Sept. 9, 2009

September 9, 2009 at 7:52 am Leave a comment

Kraft Foods Bids for Cadbury

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

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

The Changing American Candy-Scape

What kind of candy do Americans eat? Candy, like much else in early 21st century America, is looking more and more the same everywhere. Hershey’s, Nestle, Mars, your occasional Ferrara Pan or Necco… The American candy-scape looks, from the point of view of my local Wal-Mart or corner drug store, pretty much the same every where, and more and more like the global candy-scape. In the U.S., we all eat the same few candies, the ones put out by big companies and nationally advertised brands.

It’s not all bad, of course. Some smaller scrappy candy makers are hanging on, seeking niche markets and innovative sales channels. Candy lovers seek out the unusual and the small-batch, swapping and shopping the obscure and the hard to find. Maybe the tide is turning. Candy too will benefit from our new interest in the local and the hand made.

But fifty years ago, before the consolidation of the candy industry into a few major players, ordinary American candy was a swirling and surprising crazy quilt. Depending on where you lived and where you shopped, you might have your choice, on an ordinary day, of several hundred sorts of candy. And when you visited the next state over, several hundred other sorts.

Ray Broekel (1923- 2006), the biggest fan of old and forgotten candies, claimed there were something like 100,000 different kinds of candy bars made between the 1920s-1960s. One hundred thousand! Can anyone even name one hundred anymore?

Meanwhile, on the global front, Kraft wants to buy Cadbury to access their amazing distribution channels, primarily in India and other former outposts of Mother Britain. The Indians are learning to leave behind their milky sweets in favor of global chocolate. An enormous market opportunity for whomever controls the channels. Seems neither Kraft nor Cadbury sees much profit potential in the taste for local, peculiar, particular sweets.

Back in the day, every corner had its candy shop, every coffee table its candy dish. Candy in America was, in the twentieth century, a very big deal. The twentieth century has been called the “American Century,” a time when American optimism promised that any thing was possible: world peace, the population of space, the cure for the common cold. Less is known about the American Candy Century. But it turns out, candy is everywhere in twentieth century American culture. Candy is so innocuous, so insignificant, that it barely ever gets noticed. But if you start paying attention, candy has many interesting stories to tell.

I’ve been spending some time in the archives, reading old candy trade journals, popular magazine and newspaper stories, looking for the missing candy stories. This blog is  about those stories: strange, surprising, funny, informative, weird… but all true.

More: Read about Ray Broekel in a chapter from Steve Almond’s book Candy Freak, a love letter to the lost world of American candy, at therumpus.net.

Related Posts:

  • Steve Almond is Wrong
  • .

    Archival Note: This post combines two posts originally published separately:  September 7, 2009 as “The American Candy Century” and September 10, 2009 as “The Changing American Candy-Scape”

    September 7, 2009 at 6:59 am Leave a comment


    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.

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