Cadbury’s Scandals: Purity to Quality

Chocolate companies around the world face the decisions of choosing quality and purity or lower expenses and higher profits. These issues present two sides of the story – what the consumer wants and what the company think is what the consumer will want. By looking at historical scandals as well as more recent scandals of the Cadbury company, we can see the changes in the culture of the company and consumers.

In the 1800s, a large chocolate scandal reached Britain. The British journal The Lanclet (Coe & Coe) had in 1850 published a report of the specific ingredients within the products of chocolate companies, including Cadbury. These substituting components (such as brick powder, starch, and animal fats) were significantly cheaper than cacao beans, allowing the companies to make larger batches of product and, therefore, more profit (Martin). Consumers, angered by the adulterated products, led public protests and sought political representation, eventually leading to the British Food and Drug Act of 1860 and the Adulteration of Food Act of 1872 (Coe & Coe). Following the scandal, Cadbury company reacted to consumer demand and quickly “went on to the advertising offensive, claiming that their product was now the only pure one” (Coe & Coe). This was the beginning of the purity campaign with Cadbury’s Cocoa Essence and later Cadbury’s Cocoa, which lasted for a few decades (Bradley).

Cadbury’s ad, featuring “pure and soluble chocolate”

However, all (good) campaigns must come to an end. After years of new products, new campaigns, and its transfer to Kraft (Bradley), Cadbury still continues to have scandals, even as recent as 2015. In 2014, Cadbury faced a scandal in Malaysia, with a health report stating that the hazelnut and original milk chocolate bars contain traces of pig DNA (Pork in Cadbury’s). With a significant Muslim population in Malaysia, many consumers boycotted the products, which were later recalled (Pork in Cadbury’s). Another more recent issue in 2015 revolved around Cadbury creme eggs. Consumers expected the chocolate layer to be Cadbury milk chocolate (Gabbatt). However, in the past few months, British consumers noticed a slight difference in taste (Gabbatt). After many approached Cadbury, the company announced that their chocolate was switched to “a standard cocoa mix” (LeTrent). Angered by the response, consumers used the internet to voice their concerns, particularly through “Twitter to vent their displeasure” (LeTrent).

Muslim throwing out potentially contaminated chocolate bars as a form of protest

Cadbury’s scandals display a tremendous difference in the company’s and consumers’ culture over the centuries. Cadbury has expanded from a domestic company to a global one (Bradley). Consumers are concerned not only about fillers or inedibles in their chocolate, which have been prevented with British regulation in 1872 (Bradley), but also whether these goods threaten their religions or lifestyles. Cadbury customers want information about which Cadbury products are Halal-certified, as with the Malaysian scandal. They also desire to learn more about the products and tell others, as seen from the response to the Cadbury egg scandal. Customers do not need to wait for printed resources but can instead post online in a matter of seconds. Likewise, the Cadbury company has evolved as well. Their current mission statement focuses on quality that encompasses all of their products, not just purity (Bradley). Recent campaigns, including the one following the Malaysian scandal, focus on bringing happiness to their customers, a broader mission than the goal of providing pure chocolate products from the Victorian age (Pork in Cadbury’s). Other campaigns focus on the association of the brand with the color purple and its label as a Fair Trade product (The History of Chocolate).

Cadbury’s campaign following Malaysian scandal, focusing on bring happiness to customers

Over time, the culture of the Cadbury company and the culture of its consumers have changed drastically. While the scandal in the nineteenth century sparked British consumers’ interests in purity of their food, the later scandals bring different issues of a diverse global consumer population as well as customers’ desire for consistent taste for later chocolate products, as seen through the scandal in Malaysia and the Cadbury Creme Egg Scandal. Cadbury’s current campaigns, including those following the Malaysian scandal, have also evolved from purity to quality in products and providing overall happiness to customers. The contrasting of the scandals show that both consumer and company culture have changed and that the purity campaign “was now past its sellout date” (Bradley).

Works Cited

Bradley, John. Cadbury’s Purple Reign the Story behind Chocolate’s Best-loved Brand. Chichester, England: John Wiley, 2008. Electronic.

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. Electronic

Gabbatt, Adam. “Shellshock! Cadbury Comes Clean on Creme Egg Chocolate Change.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. < -egg-chocolate-change>. LeTrent, Sarah. “Fans Melt down over Cadbury Creme Egg Change –” CNN. Cable News Network, 12 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. < -creme-egg-recipe-change-feat/>. “Pork in Cadbury’s: Malaysian Chocolate Recalled after DNA Traces Found.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 27 May 2014. Web. 11 Mar. 2015. < recalled-after-dna-traces-found>.

Professor Carla Marint. Chocolate, Culture, and Politics of Food. 25 February 2015. Lecture 5: Popular Sweet Tooth and Scandal.

“The History of Chocolate.” Cadbury. 11 March 2015. <;

Web. 11 March 2015.’s_Cocoa_advert_with_rower_1885.jpg

Web 11. March 2015.

Web 11. March 2015.


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