Posted in Kafevend Blog
Recently we've been taking a look at the history of some of our favourite drinks companies in the UK. One drink we haven't yet considered though is cocoa, which is sure to be picking up now that the nights are drawing ever inwards. Today then we are going to delve into the origin of Cadbury's, the company that's been providing drinking chocolate- along with the solid stuff, obviously- for almost two hundred years.
Cadbury was founded in 1824 by a Quaker named John Cadbury in Birmingham, on Bull Street. Initially he sold tea, coffee and cocoa from his shop- healthier alternatives to beer, which Quakers shunned- and prepared them himself using a pestle and mortar. Business did well enough that seven years later he was producing a variety of cocoa products in a factory, though this was predominantly sold to the wealthy as the cost of production was quite high. His brother Benjamin joined him in 1847 and they appeared to be doing quite well, acquiring a Royal Warrant as the manufacturers of cocoa and chocolate for the Royal household.
Unfortunately, the company wasn't doing as well as receiving a royal warrant would lead you to believe; throughout the 1850s the business went into a decline and was losing money. John's sons Richard and George came to the rescue however, when they took over in 1861. By 1864 it was turning a profit again, thanks in part to the brothers' decision to focus on chocolate, and higher quality chocolate at that.
New techniques from the continent, such as the Van Houten press, had made their way to England which the brothers utilised as they began rebuilding the company. Another big decision was to move the business four miles outside the city to the countryside. Here, in 1878, they built a new factory, ideally placed to receive and export goods thanks to the nearby canals and the up and coming railways. A few years later in 1893, George showed his own Quaker roots when he established a model village close to the factory for the workers to live in. This estate was renamed Bournville, and survives to this day.
Perhaps the most famous chocolate produced by Cadbury is their Dairy Milk bar, first released in 1905. It wasn't their first attempt at adding milk- they had tried making milk chocolate around a decade before that, but that version didn't turn out very well. Following in the footsteps of master Swiss chocolatiers who were pioneering the blend, their new Dairy Milk bar had the highest amount of milk packed into a bar to date. It quickly became their biggest seller and has been earning lots of money for Cadbury ever since.
In a way, Cadbury had been adding milk to chocolate for a while before their new bar hit the market, in the form of cocoa- handily bringing us back around to drinks. In 1849 Cadbury had released a milk chocolate cocoa, reputedly based on a recipe from Hans Sloane. You can still get your hands on it today- although the recipe has probably changed a little since then. If you'd prefer something less sweet and a little stronger, you could always try Cadbury's Bournville cocoa. Of course, you can never go wrong with Cadbury's original drinking chocolate blend. If you're looking forward to enjoying one- or several- over the rest of autumn and winter, be sure to raise a cup of cocoa to the pioneering Cadbury family!