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Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry [Hardcover]

Deborah Cadbury
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Oct 2010

The delicious true story of the world’s most famous chocolate firms by award-winning writer and a descendant of the Cadbury chocolate dynasty, Deborah Cadbury

In 'Chocolate Wars' bestselling historian and award-winning documentary maker Deborah Cadbury takes a journey into her own family history to uncover the rivalries that have driven 250 years of chocolate empire-building.

In the early nineteenth century Richard Tapper Cadbury sent his son, John, to London to study a new and exotic commodity: cocoa. Within a generation, John's sons, Richard and George, had created a chocolate company to rival the great English firms of Fry and Rowntree, and their European competitors Lindt and Nestlé. The major English firms were all Quaker family enterprises, and their business aims were infused with religious idealism.

In America, Milton Hershey and Forrest Mars proved that they had the appetite for business on a huge scale, and successfully resisted the English companies' attempts to master the American market. As chocolate companies raced to compete around the globe, Quaker capitalism met a challenge that would eventually defeat it. At the turn of the millennium Cadbury, the sole independent survivor of England's chocolate dynasties, became the world's largest confectionary company. But before long it too faced a threat to its very survival, and the chocolate wars culminated in a multi-billion pound showdown pitting independence and Quaker tradition against the cut-throat tactics of a corporate leviathan.

Featuring a colourful cast of savvy entrepreneurs, brilliant eccentrics and resourceful visionaries, ‘Chocolate Wars’ is the story of a uniquely alluring product and of the evolution, for better and worse, of modern business.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; 1st UK edition edition (28 Oct 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000732555X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007325559
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 180,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


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About the Author

Deborah Cadbury is the highly acclaimed, bestselling author of several books, including ‘The Dinosaur Hunters’, ‘The Lost King of France’, and ‘Seven Wonders of the Industrial World’. She has also won numerous international awards as a TV producer for the BBC, including an Emmy for ‘Horizon’. She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent slice of history 3 Nov 2010
'Chocolate Wars' has several interweaving strands: the history of one major confectioner - Cadbury; the broader story of the rivalries between different firms and the race to discover new and better ways of making cocoa and chocolate; fascinating 19th century social history and a good slice of Quaker history in to the bargain.

Eminently readable, Deborah Cadbury writes with the pace of a thriller - often leaving a chapter on a 'cliff-hanger' which will be resolved later in the account. The development of the chocolate industry could hardly be made more fascinating and enthralling. With rivalry and competition (the 'chocolate wars') between firms in Holland, the U.K., Switzerland and America this book also sweeps in the fascinating history of such companies as Hershey, Rowntree, Fry, Nestle, Lindt and Mars.

Two thirds of the book covers the period up to the outbreak of the First World War - and this is by far the most interesting period. There is a good exposition of Quaker business values and philanthopy and this, inevitably, covers the establishment of the Bourneville model village and Rowntree's subsequent building of a similar venture at New Earswick in York. The social history aspect is fascinating too and, as a former sales representative myself, I was intrigued by the story of Cadbury's 'travellers'. Initially they had just one man who covered the country from the midlands up to the north of Scotland by horse and on foot! Later in the 19th century they had export representatives who went as far afield as Austrailia on speculative (and successful) missions.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DELICIOUS READ 5 Nov 2011
By Doff
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I borrowed this book from the library, simply because Cadbury's is part of my Birmingham childhood, and expecting to flip through the boring bits - there were none.I was spellbound from start to finish and often totally surprised by the bitter wars and the rubbish people consumed in order to "enjoy". the new taste. Of course living in the area did enhance it but I would recommend it to anyone you will not be disappointed - which is why several of my friends will be receiving it for their birthday and Christmas presents.What a disgrace after fighting so hard through the years it had to go to Kraft.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating slice of social history 10 Nov 2010
Above all, this book is a fascinating account of a slice of social and economic history. Quakers played a critical role in the development of British industry in the 19th century, bigger than I had imagined. They dominated the emerging chocolate industry, and many others. Not for them the "dog eat dog" philosophy promulgated by Adam Smith a century earlier. As the book says, "the idea that wealth creation was for personal gain only would have been offensive". They were there to serve the community. And to promote social reform. In effect, the Quakers created and ran what we would now call social enterprises. The author skillfully weaves together several stories of Quaker entrepreneurship, chronicling their many trials and setbacks as well as their successes. This book is for anyone interested in the emergence of the liberal ideas that lie at the foundation of our modern welfare state. Equally, the Quaker approach to business has implications for the conduct of companies today. All in all, an easy, enjoyable and illuminating read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
In writing this book, Deborah Cadbury set out to understand `the journey that took my deeply religious Quaker forebears from peddling tins of cocoa from a pony and trap around Birmingham to this mighty company that reached round the globe.' It's an interesting story, peopled with some fascinating characters, and spans almost 200 years from the beginnings of the business in 1824 to the takeover of the Cadbury chocolate business by Kraft in 2009.

In addition to members of the Cadbury family, the people we meet in the book include Henri Nestlé, who experimented with baby formula before becoming an internationally known chocolate magnate, and Daniel Peter (whose baby daughter Rose benefitted from Nestlé's baby formula) who successfully making a milk chocolate bar after experimenting with milk and chocolate for many years. We also meet Rodolphe Lindt, Domingo Ghiradelli, Milton Hershey and C.J van Houten (inventor of the cocoa press).

In the middle of the 19th century, the cocoa bean was almost invariably consumed as a drink. And not a particularly appealing drink: it was gritty and visibly oily. The first chocolate bar did not appear in Britain until 1847 (made by the Fry brothers) but it wasn't particularly appealing either.

The Cadbury brothers, George and Richard, were the third generation of Cadbury tradesman in Birmingham. Their grandfather Richard Tapper Cadbury had sent his son John to London to learn about the cocoa bean. A generation later, George and Richard had created a chocolate company. The Cadbury family were Quakers, as were the other British chocolate families of Rowntree and Fry, and their focus on worker welfare saw a number of innovative workplace reforms.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This book makes you think twice when eating chocolate ( even though I don't live in England) it was very interesting,one gets a great respect for the Fry & Cadbury families, and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by David Whittall
2.0 out of 5 stars Leaves Something to be Desired
Chocolate Wars tells the history of chocolate manufacturer Cadbury, from founding to controversial sale to Kraft. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dr. Simon Howard
4.0 out of 5 stars True altruism
Good insight into the altruistic values of the founders of the Cadbury Empire. Just unfortunate more Victorian Empire building moguls didn't follow their lead.
Published 3 months ago by Pollyanna
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!
This is one of the most insightful books I have read, vastly informative on probably all the well-known chocolate producers. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kit_kat_Lil
5.0 out of 5 stars A detailed history of a great chocolate family and their rivals
I was interested in reading this book as I had heard that the Cadbury family had provided for their employees in a way no-one else did at that point in history. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John Latimer
5.0 out of 5 stars Chocolate Wars by Deborah Cadbury
A brilliant history of chocolate making from Nestle to sadly the LATE Cadbury. Reading on how Nestle started was worth the cost of the book alone
Published 4 months ago by r.j.smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
A well researched and thoroughly enjoyable book. The history, both industrial and social, was a real eye-opener to an era when everything was manufactured in Great Britain.
Published 5 months ago by T. C. Harrison
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting not only for chocolate lovers
Interesting book on the history of chocolate industry. Great read for chocolate lovers but not only. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ioca
5.0 out of 5 stars The wonders of spiritual capitalism
Reading this book I could see where Roald Dahl found his inspiration for Willy Wonka. They really were mad men who dreamt of making the magical chocolate bar, and in Herschey's... Read more
Published 6 months ago by William Cohen
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than a good read: an inspiration
I wanted to read about the development of chocolate for a number of reasons. I love reading stories about family businesses, coming from that kind of background, and anyway it's... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Drawing Lady
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