25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent slice of history
'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...
Published on 3 Nov 2010 by Daniel Brouiller
3.0 out of 5 stars a microcosm of the move from family firm to global corporation
This is a good, solid business book. Starting from a discovery - the cocoa bean - a group of entrepreneurs in family-based companies work to innovate, eventually creating the methods to mass produce the varieties of chocolate that we know today. They grow with industrialization, with the accompanying urbanization and affluence that enabled consumers to consume, until they...
Published 8 months ago by rob crawford
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent slice of history,
This review is from: Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry (Hardcover)'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.
On the Quaker history front it was interesting to see that, while George Cadbury firmly opposed the Boer War, his outright Pacifist beliefs were challenged by the fierce German aggression that began the First World War. Two of his sons even went so far as to enlist to fight while another son, Laurence, took the more Quakerly course of joining the Friends' Ambulance Unit.
The last chapters of the book cover the story from the period of the Second World War up to the takeover of Cadbury by Kraft. The tragedy is that, if the monopolies and mergers commission had not blocked the merger of Cadbury and Rowntree, two historic British firms with a similar history and values would have been saved from hostile foreign multinational takeovers.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DELICIOUS READ,
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This review is from: Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry (Paperback)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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating slice of social history,
This review is from: Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry (Hardcover)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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sad loss of a British institution,
This review is from: Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry (Hardcover)As soon as this book came out, I couldn't wait to read it. Having been to Cadbury World, I knew some of it's history, but wanted to learn about it in more detail.
It interweaves the main story about Cadbury (well, it is written by a Cadbury!) and the history of other chocolate manufacturers (Fry, Rowntree, Nestle, Mars etc). It was really well researched and everything flowed really well. Deborah Cadbury quite often leaves you on mini cliffhangers, which are resolved later in the story.
The book made me appreciate how long these companies have been going (over 180 years for Cadbury), which is not something I had considered before. I felt almost proud to have Cadbury as a British symbol, espeically with all the extra work they did outside of running a business. They were far ahead of their time socially, not only with their own staff, but the general public as well. Some of the things they did amazed me (I won't spoil it for anyone but you will understand what I mean if you have read it).
The final chapters focus on the Kraft takeover and they made me feel incredibly sad. It certainly made me realise that not everything you read in the papers is true. The one thing that really angered me was that RBS offered Kraft a loan of £630 million to buy Cadbury and they were 85% British taxpayer owned at the time! Quite ironic really.
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend it. It's a book that a lot of businesses could learn from.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chocolate wars! a sweet read.,
This review is from: Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry (Paperback)This book is an eye-opening read on the attempts by principled men, largely Quakers, to apply their religious convictions to their businesses for the benefit of their staff in a world when competition was hotting up and the demand for sweets was growing. It charts the difficulties manufacturers had in developing the products we take for granted today. How they had to discover by trial and error, the best way to treat the cocoa bean, whose name means, food of the gods, in order to tame it into products which were edible. It is very readable, and deals fairly with parts played by all the manufacturers, which have led to the current state of affairs in the world of chocolate. Definitely recommend.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating,
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This review is from: Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry (Kindle Edition)This has to be one of the best books I have read recently for several reasons; it is an unusual subject, it delves into the social history and it is well written.
The books takes us from the humble beginnings of Cadbury and other British manufacturers and brings it right up to date with the take over by Kraft. It shows how the families who founded the business did not just pay lip service to their Quaker religion but actively applied it to every corner of the company so improving the worker's lives although, as is revealed, some were not above a bit of industrial espionage.
It is an inspiring story of how to run a business in a unique and beneficial way but still turn a profit. The story of Hershey repeatedly trying to set himself up in business before he eventually found a winning formula is one of true grit in the face of adversity.
The piece that most surprised me was that Cadbury, and the other UK manufacturers, had salesmen all over the world as early as the 1800s. Plus you'll find out why chocolate eclairs were developed for the Indian market.
Having read this I am now a fully qualified chocolate bore! :)
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Business was not an end in itself; it was a means to an end.',
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. Under George Cadbury's direction, workers were provided with housing, education and training. There were also medical facilities and pension schemes for employees. In 1878, the Bournbrook estate on the outskirts of Birmingham was acquired by the brothers. The new factory, at what was renamed Bournville, was completed in 1879. There was room for landscaped parks, including rose gardens, and for organised recreation, including cricket.
Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate became a household name after its invention in 1905, and mass production began in earnest after World War I. A merger with J S Fry and Sons in 1919 and the development of products such as Cadbury's Milk Tray and then Roses placed Cadbury's at the forefront of world chocolate manufacture.
It's all here in this book: a history of the Cadbury enterprise and of chocolate manufacture during the 19th and 20th centuries. The history involves exploration and innovation and, occasionally, espionage. The hostile takeover by Kraft saw the end of an era, of a Quaker company that had flourished on the principle of altruism and had taken over 180 years to build.
The book is interesting as well because of the information it includes about the role that Quakers played in English business and banking during the 18th and 19th centuries. By the early 19th century, some 4,000 Quakers were running English banks and companies, this was because their rules forbade them from entering Parliament, the Armed Forces and some professions (such as the law). Companies such as Bryant & May (matches), Clark (shoes), Huntley & Palmer (biscuits) and Wedgwood (chinaware) were all significant. In accordance with their own strict standards, the Quakers believed that wealth creation should fund social projects, that quality was paramount and that reckless debt was shameful.
I picked up this book on the basis of another review, and I'm glad that I did. Cadbury's chocolate has been part of my life for over 50 years, but I knew little of the history of the company or of the chocolate making process. This book brings both to life, as well as providing interesting information about the role of Quaker-run companies during the Industrial Revolution and beyond.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of chocolate, in aspects of the manufacturing industry during the 19th and 20th centuries and in the growth of advertising. It's sad, too, to see how the appetite for profit has starved notions of social welfare.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight and an insider's view,
This review is from: Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry (Paperback)I find it rather curious that the four founding families most associated with British chocolate history, Fry, Rowntree, Terry and Cadbury were each Quaker and unlike other businessmen of their era (the late 18th Century) their motivation was not expressly for profit. One other, who may have been Quaker and was solidly anti-slavery as were the Quakers, shared some of the business motivations of the four families and that was Josiah Wedgwood. They wanted to better the lives of their workers and they provided homes, schools for their children and helped the adults to become literate when few working people then had that ability. Cadbury's created the village of Bourneville for his workers. Wedgwood did similar. One of the Fry family, Elizabeth, denied access to the business, devoted her life to social reform as did others in the families.
It would make an interesting comparison to examine the owners of the wool and cotton mills and coal mines which were expanding at about the same time and to compare the lives of their workers to those of Cadbury, for example. I think that all would choose Cadbury were they able.
It is a sad fact that none of the families now have any involvement in the running of what was their family businesses. Fry and Terry were absorbed by Rowntree with whom there was some close family connections and the whole more recently absorbed into the Nestlé empire. Cadbury itself acquired a variety of other companies over the past 50 years alone, some of which were split off and since sold, but the remnants of Cadbury's business was rather recently and somewhat acrimoniously taken over by Krafft.
It was the fight to preserve the family business that prompted the authoring of this book. Debra Cadbury is rather obviously of the family and the book relates her personal efforts and those of the antagonists desirous of the business.
It is also very sad that Cadbury is a name much associated with Britain, similar in its way to those of Jaguar, Rolls Royce and several others but which all are now in the hands of foreign owners whether European, American and even Chinese or Indian. While some support the idea of globalisation, it is all too true that much of the British economy is dependant upon the foibles of some overseas entity and it is conceivable that whatever currently remains of some business or another could very suddenly be moved to another location if the move meant long-term production costs or offered other benefits to its owners. The cost to Britain could be devastating. Krafft has already closed several of Cadbury's factories and moved production to Eastern Europe or to one of its US plants although it had 'guaranteed' that no such moves would be made in the immediate future.
That is the fight that Debra Cadbury attempted to defend. It is unfortunate for British industry that she lost, but probably not that surprising! There are many examples where someone starts a business which passes to his son who may have some first-hand knowledge of the business and a sense of responsibility. Add a third, fourth or tenth generation and things go seriously awry. It is by then no longer a business that I may have started but a 'family business' and the personal attachment may be much weakened. I know of several descendants in that position who simply did not possess the attachment, will, desire or interest to continue. The business had become a burden that MUST be offloaded. The above are four examples, but think Selfridge's, Harrod's, Debenham's, Bourne & Hollingsworth or Whiteley's and Rolls Royce or Bentley - where are the founding families in those businesses? They are just a few examples that come immediately to mind.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating History of Quaker Business Values versus Today's Greed,
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet!,
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Chocolate Wars: From Cadbury to Kraft: 200 years of Sweet Success and Bitter Rivalry by Deborah Cadbury (Hardcover - 28 Oct 2010)
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