“You can’t compete with Cadbury in the first ten years”

So said Bangladeshi cricketer Tamim Iqbal, responding to Geoffrey Boycott‘s suggestion that his country didn’t deserve Test Cricket status, meaning that any newcomer struggles to establish itself against established players.  Cadbury is a brand synonymous with chocolate not only in the UK, but in many countries of the world where Britain once held sway.

Of course there is another meaning that may have escaped Iqbal, but when I was a child (many years ago, I concede) Cadbury was not only ubiquitous, but it was unbeatable.  Yes there was an alternative in the somewhat creamier form of Galaxy, but for most kids nothing beats the taste of the “glass and half of full cream milk” found in every bar.  Bit of a strange promo line that one.  How big were the glasses?  Did they have different sized ones for every size of bar?  Why didn’t they just buy bigger ones instead of having to resort to an extra half?

Nowadays I find the purple wrapped bars are no longer to my taste, and though the transition came long after my first ten years I can’t put my finger on when this happened.  I suspect that a gradual exposure to alternatives has incrementally educated my palate.

The skiing holiday was probably a major culprit; especially those taken in Saas Fee, Wengen, and other Swiss resorts provided lots of opportunity to sample the wares of Lindt & Sprüngli, Nestlé and Jacobs Suchard (before their absorption into the Kraft empire that ultimately swallowed Cadbury too).

Then a small British manufacturer introduced organic chocolate and in no time Green & Blacks became a brand to be reckoned with… until Cadbury bought them in their 5th year of trading.untitled-20-Edit

untitled-9-2Nowadays the chocolate aficionado in the UK tends to stray towards Hotel Chocolat, a brand available only through their own stores and concessions and they seem to be doing rather well, though they are now into their 12th year.  Expansion has seen them open a couple of restaurants in the UK, and in St Lucia, where much of their cocoa is sourced, a hotel which builds on one of their brand values; luxury.

Whilst as a confection it is one of the world’s most popular foodstuffs inspiring many cultural references (Joanne Harris and Roald Dahl most notably) we forget that as a drink it has been around for almost 4000 years, though the heavily sweetened beverage we now consume (with marshmallows if you want it even sweeter) would be unrecognisable to the Olmecs of Mexico and their forebears.

Still it was a simple cup of chocolate that inspired this post, and the writing on the mug in which it was served.  Who would not wish to plumb the chocolate abyss?


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