Monday, October 10, 2011

Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury ****

Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury is a dense, comprehensive history of chocolate candy. Comprehensive? Yes! Topics include: development and manufacture of a wide variety of current and historical chocolate products, international aspects of growing and marketing chocolate, political, social, and business history, family histories, and biographies of the major players. The book includes the major chocolate companies: Hershey, Mars, Cadbury, Lindt, Houten, Nestle, and others. So comprehensive that most readers will find some parts of great interest and other parts that are best skimmed over.

As might be imagined by the author's name, the main thread is the cradle to death history of Cadbury. The company was started by Quakers. The beginnings were touch and go as they struggled to find a business and product formula that might be successful. In the 19th century, many companies were struggling to find a chocolate product that could be manufactured consistently, delivered to consumers without spoiling, and tasty.

Once the company was successful, the challenge was to deploy their riches in a way consistent with their Quaker ideals. At the turn of the 20th century, their goals coincided for the growing labor and public welfare movements. In England, the various Quaker businesses had a positive impact on public policy.

However, starting with World War I, the business climate changed with the rise of bigger, profit-oriented businesses. This was the beginning of the decline of Cadbury as moral force and an independent organization. The final demise did not occur until almost 100 years later.

This is an excellent book which can be read as general history, evolution of social policy, condemnation of modern business, or, even, the history of chocolate candy. Truly, something for everyone.

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