When John Cadbury came to Birmingham in 1824, he sold tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in a small shop on Bull Street. Drinking chocolate was considered a healthy alternative to alcohol, something Cadbury, a Quaker, was keen to encourage.
In 1879, the Cadburys moved to Bournville and created their ‘factory in a garden’ – an unprecedented move. It is now ironic that today’s Bournville is surrounded by that urban sprawl the Cadburys were so keen to get away from.
This book looks at some of the social impact this company has had since its inception, both on the chocolate and cocoa business in general and on the community at large, both within and without the firm of Cadbury.
In 2024, Cadbury’s will be celebrating 200 years of the first store opening. This is the story of how the company began, how it grew, and how they diversified in order to survive.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Pen and Sword for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.
I love chocolate and I love history so it was no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one! I would recommend it to anyone. Those who are fascinated with historical accounts presenting the inception of companies, the evolution of business practices among the 19th and 20th centuries, confectionary in the age of industrial revolution, and of course, anyone who enjoys chocolate would particularly be enlightened.
The author, Diane Wordsworth, gave great insight into the development of the Cadbury company through a chronological telling of events. I really appreciated the thoroughness of the material covered. Excerpts of article letters, testimonials, and the photos, illustrations, and pictorial designs really enhanced my enjoyment of the book. From the beautiful factory grounds to a woman carefully painting the classic logo on a box of chocolate, I really valued the inclusion of such a gallery of historical images within the book.
I was interested to learn about the historical perception of chocolate itself and the creation of product. From boilers to produce steam, weighing chocolate by hand, moulds, the shaker, transportation, the setting the chocolate on stone slabs in a cellar, the boxing of chocolate, I found myself engrossed in the process of it all.
I also appreciated the discussion of the foundational company culture and values concerning the welfare of their employees. Fair wages for factory workers, as well as the offering of occupational medicine, apprenticeships, and vocational training through an employment package really helped to define the ethos and build a sense of community which was a unique concept among companies at the time. The exploration of working conditions as they relate to business philosophy was an important issue to cover in this book. With support for the abolition of slave trade and labor in the Portuguese islands of cocoa harvesting, this content would make an interesting volume in and of itself. “In these professedly enlightened days, commercial progress cannot well be considered apart from moral progress; we want to know not only how work is done but who and what they are who do it.”
The company story was told with great context. Significant topics of the time such as women’s suffrage movement and the impact of wartime were mentioned. With employees called to service and in the face of ingredient shortages due to imposed restrictions on the transportation of cocoa, a diversification of the company had also included the manufacturing of dried vegetables, biscuits, and fruit pulp. Other contributions in meeting the needs of the military through craftsmanship included part making for guns and aeroplanes which I found intriguing.
I would be interested to see an extension of this book to include additional details of the changes experienced in the industrial age as it relates to a deeper look into confectionery factory life and the process of chocolate-making. I can only imagine the difficulty in organizing and deciding upon the inclusion or exclusion of content for this or a subsequent piece since the manufacturing of chocolate is so multifaceted. I’d also be curious about additional material with the incorporation of the future of the company in reference to an entrepreneurial endeavor by Cadbury’s great-grandson, James, who has since started a company called Love Cocoa. The characteristics of these products include being natural and free-from palm oil and embraces environmental conservation efforts through a partnership with the Rainforest Foundation.
I think this would make a great gift and coffee table book for your home, office, or business place.
And I thought this was a cute craft: Felt Cadbury Bunny Easter Craft.