American chocolate masquerading as British chocolate

Kraft didn’t fool anybody.

When they bought out Cadburys almost two years ago, everyone was freaking out. I can’t imagine why:

Kraft bought Cadbury for £5 of their own money. The rest ($11.5 billion) was borrowed from RBS, a bank that is 84% owned by the British government (and therefore…Brits!!). They then threw in a few Kraft shares, which, if they had to borrow money to buy the company in the first place, probably weren’t worth a hell of a lot. They made no promises to secure jobs – remember, this is an American corporation; they don’t care about workers’ rights. Just look at Apple! Kraft did promise to keep the Keynsham plant open, though.

Less than a week after they bought out Cadbury, they shut down the Keynham plant and sacked over 400 workers. CEO Irene Rosenfeld did have the time to pose for some ridiculously crass photoshoots, though.

In-keeping with their track record, after they sacked everyone in Keynham, they moved production to Poland (where…guess what? It’s cheaper).  Then, a few months later, they shut down their Polish division and then outsourced that to Korea! Maybe they’ll finally just move production to China and take some of the heat off of Apple. Way to go trying to fight that “evil corporation” stereotype, Evil American Corporations….

I’m currently helping out a local business owner with her Facebook and email stuff (something that professionals with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Twitter would call “digital marketing strategy” and “e-campaign promotional paradigm initiative plans”). The fact that she pays me in chocolate, ice cream AND money is quite possibly the best benefits package I could think of. Take THAT, fellow employees who get computer purchase reimbursement and long-term disability! Does your Roth come with maple sprinkles? No? Then jog on.

It did get me thinking that, even though most of the chocolates aren’t made in-house, they are made somewhat locally, and while the nostalgia and warmy warm feeling of Cadbury’s earns Fruit & Nut a perma-top place in all things chocolate, those melt-in-your-mouth caramels she sells are a close second. She also rents a chocolate fountain (free!).

Click on me:

I once took part in a focus group about chocolate (!!). It was in Boston, and we actually got to eat Kit Kats and talk about them – the packaging, the taste etc. Best. Focus group. EVER. After being shown the typical US packaging that everyone recognized (paper, with thin foil underneath), and then some UK/European packaging (thick, all-foil packaging), everyone said they hated the UK/European version because it “looked weird” and they would choose the US packaging as it was recognisable and trustworthy.

We were then told to taste samples of Kit Kats in a blind test. Everyone preferred one over the other, citing a milkier, “almost coconut”-type depth to the chocolate.

Turns out they all liked the British version! The same guy who professed his hatred of the commie European packaging was practically wetting himself over the hidden nuances of something that chavvy receptionists are accustomed to dunking in their tea every day.

It got me thinking about how I was unjustly fooled by chocolate bars here in the US either claiming to look like or taste like their original UK counterparts. The first time I ever tried Hershey’s, it was a Cookies ‘n’ Cream flavour. It tasted like chalk. Having a go at Nestle, it tasted like slightly milkier chalk. Dove was totally masquerading as Galaxy, and even then it’s just not the same. It’s like they dried up some milk behind a radiator, spat in it to get it wet again (shut up) and used that in the chocolate-making process. With a bit of shit.

Old faithfuls like Lindt and Godiva are around, but if you’re after a Thorntons equivalent you’re shit out of luck. Hotel Chocolat has a store on Newbury Street, but they’re always out of the Macadamia and Coconut squares. Even the Cadburys bars that are made by Hersheys are positively revolting.

All of the chocolate here is so bad that its taste has to be masked by mutating it with other substances (peanuts, peanut butter, nougat, gummy bears, caramel). The odds of you finding a simple, plain chocolate bar (a la Dairy Milk or Galaxy) are about as likely as finding a someone drinking a PBR without a lobotomy receipt stapled to their head (they did trepanations before they were cool).

It’s only been two years, and I’ve not noticed any further upsets in their business practices. While Kraft will never, ever, make iconically ridiculously amazing award-winning adverts like this or like this, they’ve at least kept Cadbury’s 2009-onward promise to only use Fair Trade cocoa for their chocolate production.

The chocolate I bought back with me are now part of my “I’ll eat it when I’m homesick” rations (which is all time). Wish I’d bought more than just one of these.

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