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September 2009
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Chocolate Patriotism

Kraft Foods wants to gobble up Cadbury. An alliance of Nestlé and Hershey is rumoured to be considering a rival bid. Shareholders slather like children in the sweetie shop. Should we care that an iconic British company, maker of Dairy Milk, Crunchie, Flake and that budget stick of sweetness, the Fudge bar, looks set to fall into foreign hands?

When gourmets speak of food culture the image is of artisans and rural crafts, of home-baking and unpasteurised cheeses. But Britain’s food culture — like it or not — has long been industrialised and our living heritage includes our classic chocolate bars. Every childhood has pocket-money memories of Flakes stuck in ice-creams and hoarded squares of Dairy Milk. Many an adult has a secret treat in the corner shop. It’s an energy boost with a certain comforting nostalgia.

So the news of a foreign takeover gives me a surge of chocolate patriotism. For while Kraft gave the world the dubious delights of the processed cheese slice, we Brits became world leaders in chocolate bars.The great chocolate-lover Roald Dahl saw the invention in the Thirties of all the confectionary classics, including Crunchie. That decade was, he said, the equivalent of the Italian Renaissance or the golden age of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. As a schoolboy at Repton, Dahl was part of a tasting panel for a Cadbury’s factory. The excitement of unwrapping the foil for unknown treasure is said to be part of the inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The Great British chocolate bar can also claim some eco-cred. One of Cadbury’s brands, Green & Blacks, has made organic chocolate widely available. Last month the company put Fairtrade cocoa and sugar in Dairy Milk. More obscurely they have committed to using free-range eggs in Creme Eggs. Cadbury’s origins, like those of other chocolate companies such as Fry’s and Rowntree, go back to Quakers who were excluded from professions and went into industry. Their empires were built on the good treatment of their workforce and supplying delight at an affordable price.

Tastes change, and some sneer at “chavvy chocolate” such as Cadbury’s Milk Tray. The classic chocolate bar and chocolate box is not the same sort of taste as a posh bar of 70 per cent cocoa solids or truffles from Fortnum’s. But national tastes remain deep rooted. So as my eye sweeps across a counter of colourfully wrapped chocolate, it hurts to imagine their ownership going to a country that produces the likes of the oily Hershey bar.

taken from The Times online edition.

video from the BBC here : (not to difficult ton understand) –> une vidéo très sympa sur les chocolats de Pâques chez Cadbury. Cela me rappelle un peu “Charlie Et La Chocolaterie”.

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