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Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers Hardcover – October 19, 2010
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A descendant of the Cadbury family of chocolatiers, author Cadbury is also an award-winning documentary producer for the BBC and has seven other books to her credit. The history of chocolate, from its origins as an exotic Aztec beverage to the most prized confectionery in the world, is told here through the eyes of the British Quaker family that transformed a gritty, oily brew into one of the most sought-after delectable treats on the planet. In doing so, the Cadbury brothers turned their father’s humble and nearly bankrupt business into a globally dominant corporation in the span of two generations. The path to success was not easy, and Cadbury tells the story of fierce competition from names like Fry, Nestlé, Hershey, and Mars, as well as the Dutch and Swiss entrepreneurs who were so crucial in cracking the food chemistry of the cacao bean. Cadbury chronicles 150 years of chocolate wars that only heated up further into a global-merger competition, which saw the venerated Cadbury brand get swallowed up by the food giant Kraft in 2009. This tale of capitalist rivalry mixed with Quaker values makes for a very sweet journey. --David Siegfried
“Although written by proud Cadbury kin, the narrative is balanced and fair. This is a well written and well researched look at chocolate and the Quaker business tradition that any food or history buff will enjoy.”
“Chocolate Wars – clear, readable and richly detailed – is at least as much about Quakers as it is about chocolate... enjoyable.”
Financial Times, November 15, 2010
“Deborah Cadbury’s branch of the Cadbury family wasn’t involved in the chocolate business but she garnered a deep impression from a childhood visit to her cousins’ company and the reader of Chocolate Wars feels they are getting an insider’s view. Her own background as a historian and TV documentary maker means that this book communicates in an episodic and visual style, making what risks being a dull subject gripping as it flips back and forth around the world documenting parallel events in the emergence of the chocolate industry.”
“The 150-year rivalry among the world’s greatest chocolate making families, is told by a descendant of one of the families. Just think what sweetness came out of these families' rivalries, depicted deliciously in this new book.”
“Fascinating...Chocolate Wars presents narrative history at its most absorbing, peopled by colourful characters: the true story of the chocolate pioneers, the visions and ideals that inspired them and the mouth-watering concoctions they created... Deborah gives readers an insider look, fleshing out the stories around her family with her familiar competence as a bestselling historian and award winning documentary maker.”
“A fine pocket history of corporate confectionery... Cadbury has a knack for capturing the driven personalities who launched these [chocolate] empires.”
Booklist, October 1, 2010
“This tale of capitalist rivalry mixed with Quaker values makes for a very sweet journey.”
“This is a delicious book, seductive as a tray of bonbons, a Fancy Box in every way.”
The New Yorker Book Bench
“For chocolate lovers and Roald Dahl fans, some heartening news: Willy Wonka’s factory – or at least something that sounds very much like it – was a real place... Though Cadbury begins with teasingly enviable childhood recollections... the story she tells is really about Quakers, and one family’s continuous struggle to reconcile religious values – pacifism, austerity, sobriety – with the indulgent nature of their product and the ruthlessly competitive capitalism of the world in which they made their fortune... It’s hard not to root for these guys and the story is all the more bittersweet because we know how it ends.”
The Daily Telegraph
“Engaging and scholarly, confident and compassionate, Chocolate Wars is less a family biography than an impressively thought provoking parable for our times... A vibrant history.”
“The inside story of the 150-year rivalry among Cadbury, Hershey, Nestlé, and Mars is a fascinating and luscious tale. Deborah Cadbury, great-great-great-granddaughter of 19th-century chocolate maker John Cadbury, tells it eloquently in Chocolate Wars, drawing the reader into her epic of family and industry with clear love for her subject.”
Christian Science Monitor, December 1, 2010
“[Chocolate Wars] pits idealism against capitalism, religious piety against the forces of greed and cutthroat competition. Though, like great fiction, it defies belief, it’s the true story of our favorite guilty pleasure. Cadbury’s book, like her namesake’s famous sampler, is full of surprises and delights.”
Bnreview.com, December 2010
“This engaging history of the 150-year rivalry among the world's greatest chocolate makers—the English firms Fry, Rowntree, and Cadbury (to which the author, Deborah Cadbury, is an heiress), their European competitors Lindt and Nestlé, and the American upstarts Hershey and Mars—is delightful, especially for its fascinating portrait of the 19th-century success of Quaker capitalism, built quite remuneratively on the ideal that wealth creation entails responsibilities beyond personal gain.”
“Deborah Cadbury begins with a brief description of Quaker aims and humane business practices before moving on through the history of the family business. This takes in the truly exciting race to put Cadbury’s chocolate candy in every mouth, to the exclusion of that made by rival English Quaker firms, Rowntree and Fry, to say nothing of the Swiss Lindt and Nestlé. Her many faceted account takes in technology, distribution, and industrial espionage, advertising and packaging, labor relations and model housing for workers, the role of the firm and its owners in wartime and international expansion.”
“Engaging and scholarly, Chocolate Wars is less a family biography than an impressively thought-provoking parable for our times.”
“Fascinating…Read this excellent book.”
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"The problem with the way we have developed our system of shareholder capitalism is that the shareholder is being divorced from his role in ownership," explains Sir Dominic Cadbury, the last family chairman.
Cadbury and a few other chocolate makers were practicing Quakers and wanted to use their business in service of their faith. Some of their guiding beliefs for business are:
Keep your word.
Do not go into debt or bankruptcy.
Watch over other Quaker businesses and advise their owners when they appear to be in trouble or making poor or unethical
decisions, and take influence from them yourself.
As the Industrial Revolution built momentum, they were warned against paper credit and that warning was added to their written guidelines.
They had meetings monthly with other Quaker business leaders and discussed business principles, check that their ethics and beliefs are in line with their actions and if not, after repeated warnings were given, they would be disowned by the Society of Friends. As wealth grew, additional guidelines were added warning Friends that accumulation of riches for oneself was not acceptable. Annually they met with other Quaker business leaders from a larger geographic area requiring travel, to address these ideas also. They thus developed written ethical guidelines and business guidelines and helped each other succeed financially also. As wealth continued to build, guidelines were also written for children of rich Quakers to ensure they were not corrupted.
Of course those are basically just decent principles for living, right? This book is the story of the attempt to fulfill that Quaker purpose. Many succeeded as did the Cadburys initially, but when problems continued to arise with the growth of industrialization, the first break for the Cadburys with their ethics was they began advertising. Other companies were having great success advertising already, and Cadbury joined in. They believed they were selling an excellent product in their drinking chocolate that was both good for health, and an optional substitute for alcohol which was causing great problems. In this way they justified their decision to advertise, but it was a definite break from their religious ethics.
Some other things these Quaker businessmen did was build housing for their employees and help them to buy them. The housing community areas included green space, gardens (with gardeners to teach them how to raise food), swimming pools, tennis courts and other amenities. Cadbury also provided education and health care. These sound admirable at first glance, but seem to some to be rather paternalistic. How about you pay your employees a fair living wage so that they can afford to choose their own housing, education and medical care? The Cadburys and others also did much philanthropical work but again, how about you pay people enough that they don't need your charity? This idea is also addressed in the book with a quotation from a theologian from Dartmouth, William Jewitt Tucker, "I can conceive of no greater mistake, more disastrous in the end to religion, if not to society, than of trying to make charity do the work of justice."
There are just a multitude of ideas in this book that are so important, and really have not changed today. As the Cadburys (and other families also) attempt to do good things, they keep getting stymied. This might be a good place to discuss the existence of altruism - is there such a thing? At any rate, they are almost universally stymied in their efforts, whether altruistic or not. For example, they learn that slavery is being used by their cocoa bean sources. When they decide to boycott those growers, or go to another supplier, the British government suggest that other buyers will just take their place, whereas if they wait and work with the British government they can put pressure on the Portuguese government to not only end slavery but reform labor practices holistically. Cadbury agrees to do this somewhat undercover, but word gets out and they are crucified in the press for not boycotting immediately. Again, when Cadbury decides to buy a newspaper or two to disseminate information (read propaganda) supporting their beliefs, that is antiwar and pro labor, they are again accused of hypocrisy when it is made known that their newspaper has continued advertising for gambling, while they preach against it. Cadbury believed the paper would go bankrupt without that advertising (based on previous experiences) and decided it would be better to have a paper with gambling info and antiwar sentiments, rather than just the one paper with gambling advertising and pro war sentiments.
Cadbury also addresses the effects of two world wars on business. When WWI began, Cadbury put a lot thought of thought into what would be the appropriate use for a Quaker's wealth under those circumstances. One of the things that came out of that was ambulance support and workers. I can appreciate conscientious objectors, but what does this ambulance support mean? I support your war enough to risk my life taking care of you but not to kill someone else, only to make it easier for YOU to kill someone else? Interesting interpretation.
The end of the story is basically, everyone gets taken over and becomes too large to be accountable. What remains today of the philanthropy or good works of Cadbury and I believe Hershey also, are trusts that are separate from the business.
If you look at corporations today and wonder how the heck we got in this greedy mess, with CEOs who make 300 times what their workers do, this is a good example of how it all works. 4.5 stars - would have been 5 but it was sometimes hard to track the info and stories because of the breadth of info. I haven't even begun to touch on the material covered in this book..
One cautionary note: the book may leave you craving a Flake, Curly Wurly, or Fry's Chocolate Cream, which may be frustrating if residing in a clime where such staples of civilised life are not readily available. Thankfully, however, it seems these can be ordered via Amazon.
This book has given me both nostalgic pleasure and an understanding of the history of the development of my favorite “food”.
I was unaware of the Quaker origins of Cadbury’s and other rival companies. It is so very interesting to read of the principles on which the founding fathers based their commercial dealings and the successes they achieved, sometimes despite these ideologies. That Richard Cadbury felt it necessary to disinherit his children in 1914 was influenced by his Quaker upbringing that frowned upon money not earned by one’s own efforts. Much of his life was devoted to alleviating the suffering of the poor and he was one of the first to build cities away from the large towns, offering his workers the opportunity to live in a healthy environment away from their slum dwelling origins. It is disappointing that neither Cadbury’s nor any other British chocolate firm is still UK owned.
It is a book which held my interest throughout and I would recommend it to those who enjoy reading about History and the strong influence of religious principles which impact the direction of commercial development.
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