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Leon Neal/Getty
Leon Neal/Getty

11 Sweet Facts About Cadbury

Leon Neal/Getty
Leon Neal/Getty

To sugar-lovers stateside, Cadbury is best known as the maker of the cream-filled eggs that appear in stores each spring for Easter. But their full lineup of sweets includes close to 100 products that are beloved in the UK and around the world. Here are 11 decadent facts about the candy brand.

1. IT STARTED AS A DRINKING CHOCOLATE BUSINESS.

Cadbury advertisement from 1885. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Before it was an international corporation, Cadbury got its start as a humble grocery store. In 1824, John Cadbury opened a shop in Birmingham, England where he sold, among other goods, cocoa and drinking chocolate he ground by hand. The beverage was initially marketed as a health drink, and it was often served with lentils or barley mixed in. He opened up a full-fledged chocolate factory in 1841, and by the following year he was selling 11 types of cocoa and 16 varieties of drinking chocolate. Solid “eating chocolate” only came about years later as a way for the company to utilize the cocoa butter left over from the cocoa-making process.

2. CADBURY MADE CHOCOLATE FOR QUEEN VICTORIA.

The Cadbury company was just a few decades old when it was deemed fit for royalty. John Cadbury and his brother and business partner, Benjamin, received a Royal Warrant to assume the role of “manufacturers of cocoa and chocolate to Queen Victoria” in 1855. Today the company continues to hold a Royal Warrant from Queen Elizabeth II.

3. THE COMPANY INVENTED THE HEART-SHAPED CHOCOLATE BOX.

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Heart-shaped chocolate boxes are nearly as old as the commercialization of Valentine’s Day itself, and that’s thanks to Richard Cadbury. By the mid-19th century, exchanging gifts and cards with loved ones had become a popular practice around the holiday. Chocolate became part of the tradition by way of Cadbury’s romantic chocolate boxes. Richard, son of company founder John Cadbury, had the brilliant idea to package his confections in heart-shaped boxes embellished with cupids and roses in 1861. Customers could use the fancy boxes to store keepsakes long after the contents were consumed.

4. “RATION CHOCOLATE” WAS SOLD DURING WORLD WAR II.

Like many European businesses, Cadbury was forced to make sacrifices during the Second World War. When the British government banned fresh milk in 1941, the company stopped production on its Dairy Milk bars. Ration Chocolate, made from dried skim milk powder, was released as a cheap substitute.

5. THE FIRST CADBURY EGG APPEARED IN THE 19TH CENTURY.

Cadbury factory workers decorating Easter eggs in 1932. Image credit: Getty

Cadbury’s connection to chocolate eggs traces back to its early history. While experimenting with moldable chocolate formulas, Cadbury came up with a hollow Easter egg in 1875. The first iterations had a plain, dark chocolate exterior with sugar-coated chocolate drops filling the inside. In 1923, Cadbury debuted a cream-filled chocolate egg, but it wasn’t until 1971 that the Cadbury Creme Egg we know today, with its white-and-yellow fondant center, became an official part of the lineup.

6. CADBURY WON—AND LOST—THE TRADEMARK TO THEIR SIGNATURE PURPLE.

Getty

Cadbury first adopted its signature purple packaging in 1914 as a tribute to Queen Victoria’s favorite color. After a four-year legal battle with Nestle (which uses a similar shade in their Wonka candy line), Cadbury won the right to trademark Pantone 2685C in 2012. But their victory was short-lived—Nestle successfully appealed the ruling the following year and “cadbury purple” became free for all to use once more.

7. ROALD DAHL WAS INSPIRED BY THE COMPANY.

Years before he became a world-famous author, Roald Dahl taste-tested sweets for Cadbury. The company sent shipments of their chocolates to Dahl’s boyhood school for students to sample and the experience sparked the young boy's imagination. When writing about his inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in a draft of a speech, he recalled:

“It was then I realised that inside this great Cadbury’s chocolate factory there must an inventing room, a secret place where fully-grown men and women in white overalls spent all their time playing around with sticky boiling messes, sugar and chocs, and mixing them up and trying to invent something new and fantastic.”

His musings came in handy years later when he sat down to write his most famous novel.

8. THE IDEA FOR FLAKE CAME FROM A FACTORY WORKER.

yum9me via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Flake, the crumbly bar made from thin layers of chocolate, is one of the most unique products in the Cadbury family. Rather than being dreamt up by a recipe developer, it was discovered by an employee by mistake. One day a worker responsible for filling the molds noticed something unusual about the excess chocolate spilling over the sides. The ribbons of liquid chocolate cooled into light, flaky bars quite different from anything else on the market. The company ran with the concept, and in 1920 the Cadbury Flake bar made its commercial debut.

9. CADBURY PRODUCTS ARE SOLD IN 40 COUNTRIES.

Cadbury may forever be associated with its British home, but the brand extends far beyond the UK. Their chocolates can be found in countries across the globe including Thailand, Argentina, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia [PDF]. Regional specialties include Cadbury Oreo Eggs sold in Canada and Cadbury Glow that’s marketed as a Diwali gift in India.

10. THE CHOCOLATE TASTES DIFFERENT IN THE U.S.

Matt Cardy/Getty

If Cadbury chocolate tastes better in its British homeland than it does in the United States, that’s not in your head—products sold under the same label are made with different ingredients in the two countries. The UK product is made from milk, sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, vegetable fat, and emulsifiers, while U.S.-made Cadbury chocolate also includes lactose, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavorings, and lists sugar as the number one ingredient. Unfortunately for Cadbury purists, finding the real stuff in the States is next to impossible. Hershey, the manufacturer of the products sold in U.S. markets, forced a ban on British Cadbury imports in 2015.

11. CADBURY WORLD HAS BEEN OPEN SINCE 1990.

Paul Ellis/Getty

Fans in search of a more immersive look at the company and its history can visit Cadbury World in Birmingham, UK. The space features over a dozen interactive zones, including a 4D chocolate adventure, a chocolate-making exhibition, and a full-sized replica of the street where John Cadbury opened his first shop in 1824. If the original location is too far out of your way, Cadbury also runs a sister attraction in New Zealand.

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Former NECCO CEO Has a Plan to Save the Company

It’s been a month of ups and downs for fans of candy company NECCO and its iconic sugary Wafers. In March, The Boston Globe reported the company is in desperate need of a buyer and that CEO Michael McGee notified the state of Massachusetts that most of their employees—around 395 of them—would likely face layoffs if a suitor isn't found by May.

That news caused a bit of a panic among candy lovers, who stormed CandyStore.com to hoard packs and packs of NECCO Wafers, should the company go under. In the weeks since the news about NECCO’s uncertain fate hit, sales of the company's products went up by 82 percent, with the Wafers alone increasing by 150 percent.

Seeing the reaction and knowing there is still plenty of space in the market for the venerable NECCO Wafers, the company’s former CEO, Al Gulachenski, reached out to CandyStore.com to lay out his plan to save the brand—most notably the Wafers and Sweethearts products.

The most important part of the plan is the money he’ll need to raise. Gulachenski is set to raise $5 to $10 million privately, and he’s creating a GoFundMe campaign for $20 million more to get his plan into motion. Once the funding is secure, the company will move to a new factory in Massachusetts that allows them to retain key executives and as many other employees as they can.

“I can promise you that if you donate you will own a piece of NECCO as I will issue shares to everyone that contributes money,” Gulachenski wrote on the GoFundMe page. “This company has been in our back yard for 170 years and it's time we own it.”

Gulachenski also elaborated that, as of now, there is another buyer interested in NECCO, but that buyer “is planning to liquidate the company, fire all the employees and close the doors of NECCO forever!”

So far, Gulachenski has raised only $565 of the $20 million needed. “I know it seems like a long way to go but I do expect some institutions to jump on board and get us most of the way there,” Gulachenski wrote in a GoFundMe update. “It is also likely we can get most of the company if we get to half of our goal.”

There is still a bit of a sour taste for candy fans to swallow, even if NECCO does get saved. According to Gulachenski, the Wafers and the Sweethearts may be the only products that the reorganized NECCO continues with. This could leave lovers of the company's other candies, like Clark Bars and Sky Bars, out in the cold.

“The sugar component Necco Wafer and Sweetheart is certainly the most nostalgic and recognizable brand, more than the chocolate,” Gulachenski told The Boston Globe. “It’s all going to depend how they decide to sell the company and liquidate.”

While you can still order the Wafers in bulk from Candystore.com, the site itself even says it has no idea when or if shipments will stop coming, especially as NECCO's future remains uncertain.

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Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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People Are Panic-Buying Necco Wafers Before They Disappear From Shelves
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Mike Mozart, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The sugar wafers everybody loves to hate may not hold their spot on candy shelves for much longer. Necco is in need of a buyer, and according to CEO Michael McGee, the candy company may need to shutter for good if it doesn't find one within the coming weeks. As a result of the company's threatened status, Necco Wafers are suddenly a lot more popular, as the graph below from Candystore.com reveals.

News of the New England Confectionary Company's situation spread on March 12 when The Boston Globe reported McGee's announcement. That same day, Necco Wafer sales spiked more than 50 percent on CandyStore.com. Over the course of the month, sales of the candy rose 63 percent overall.

Necco Wafers Panic Buying from CandyStore.com

For any other candy, this sort of "panic-buying" wouldn't be surprising. If a beloved product looks like it might be taken off the market, people will hoard as much of it as they can while it's still available. But Necco Wafers aren't typically characterized as "beloved." In an earlier list of the best and worst Halloween candy published by Candystore.com, Necco Wafers ranked the fourth worst. Commenters compared the candy to both chalk and Tums, with one hater even declaring that, "Necco Wafers suck all moisture out of my mouth and all joy out of my soul."

Though they may not be the flashiest or tastiest candy, Necco Wafers do strike a nostalgia nerve in some buyers. Necco is the oldest continuously operating candymaker in the U.S., dating back to 1847. "It is a love/hate type of candy and people are super passionate about it," Clair Robins of Candystore.com tells Mental Floss. "They are perceived as an old-school classic, and even patriotic—soldiers ate them in the World Wars (both). But others think it's dry and gross and should die a painful death."

If Necco goes under, its signature wafer won't be the only product to go with it. The company also produces Clark Bars, Sky Bars, Mary Janes, Candy Buttons, and Sweethearts, so stock up on these classic candies while you still can.

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