Deadly Women (with Matt Fullerty)


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Britain tastes better when it's swaddled in Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate

Charlie Brooker: The thought of the Americans meddling with the Cadbury formula is too much for many of us to bear

I'm not especially patriotic – I find the union flag a tad garish, and the white cliffs of Dover a touch bland – but the news that the US company Kraft had bought Cadbury came as a bitter blow. It's a very British thing, Cadbury. We've all got a great deal of fondness for it. It's one of the few home comforts you miss while you're abroad, like the BBC or Marmite or self-deprecatory humour.

Considering how much imagination the Americans have, and how much they like food, it's surprising we're so much better at making chocolate than them. And we are better. I can still vividly ­recall trying Hershey's chocolate for the first time. The name held a certain glitzy allure: after all, I'd heard it mentioned in countless Hollywood movies. Like Oreo cookies and M&Ms, it was one of those brands you faintly revered even though – at the time – it wasn't available­ in British shops. So when I eventually got my hands on an authentic Hershey bar, it was quite an event. I stared at the iconic packaging for about five minutes, as though it were a prop from the set of Ghostbusters, before unwrapping it with care, breaking a bit off and preparing to savour what would surely be the most powerfully glamorous chocolate ­experience imaginable.

But the moment the product itself hit my tongue I was plunged mouthwards into an entire universe of yuk. In terms of flavour, it tasted precisely like I'd swallowed a matchbox full of caster sugar five minutes earlier, then somehow regurgitated it into my own mouth. And the texture was crumbly, dusty – slightly old even, as though this was a chocolate bar that had been found in the pocket of a civil war soldier and preserved specifically for my disenchantment. It was so ­horrible, I charitably assumed there was something wrong with it. I was eating it in England (someone had brought it back from the States), so perhaps it had gone off somehow in transit. But no. Subsequent encounters proved I'd got it right the first time. Hershey's tastes downright bad.

But then American mass-market snack food is downright bad in general. They can't do crisps either. In addition to 900 varieties of Walkers, we Brits produce Frazzles and Chipsticks and Monster Munch and all manner of wacky corn shapes, in flavours ranging from pickled onion to polar bear. ­Virtually all American crisps – or "chips", as they doggedly insist on calling them – are prosaic constructions tasting vaguely of watered-down bright orange cheese. We do bright orange cheese too, in the form of Wotsits, but we only did it once because we nailed it first time. They've got Cheetos in every shade of orange you could wish for (Spicy Orange! Smokey Orange!), but they're all a bit weak; no match for the confident chemical oomph of a Wotsit.

A new range of uniquely British chocolate snacks

Anyway, the thought of the ­Americans – so good at so many things, so bad at snack foods – meddling with the Cadbury formula is too much for many of us to bear. Hence the protest signs outside the factory in Bournville. We've been told the flavour won't change – but that isn't enough. Kraft needs to go one better, and reassure us that our national identify will remain intact by launching a whole new range of Cadbury's snacks that simply couldn't exist – or sell – anywhere else in the world. Chocolate bars with a uniquely British flavour. Here are some suggestions:

Cadbury's Full English Breakfast. Walkers have had a stab at a "full ­English breakfast" flavoured crisp, but the result was disappointing, to say the least, because it relied on various ­flavoured powders. Cadbury's Full English Breakfast bar would contain the real thing: fried egg, bacon, chips and beans, mashed and compacted into a Crunchie-sized slab, covered with a layer of ketchup, then swaddled in thick Dairy Milk chocolate. It'd look and weigh about the same as a Double Decker. And yes, it sounds disgusting – but you'd have to try it once, wouldn't you?

Cadbury's Real Ale Eggs. Creme Eggs are all well and good, but there's ­something vaguely continental about them. How about promoting the real ale industry with a chocolate egg ­containing 2fl oz of Bishop's Finger? If that fails to catch on, how about a range of special "Binge Drinker's Eggs" – available only in "Happy Hour" packs of six – filled with sugary blue ­alcopop swaddled in thick Dairy Milk chocolate.

Cadbury's Tardis Bars. Nothing fancy: these are just Tardis-shaped slabs of chocolate – part of a range that includes Caramel Cybermen and Toffee Daleks. But the proceeds go straight to the BBC, to help keep it afloat after Cameron gets in and sets about dismantling it to impress Rupert Murdoch. Other BBC-themed snacks could include Holby City Liquorice Bandages, Panorama Mint Crisp Curls, and a disturbing 100% edible lifesize replica of Terry Wogan's head, replete with crunchy shortbread teeth, praline eyeballs and a brain made of nougat. Swaddled in thick Dairy Milk chocolate.

As you may have noticed, the above suggestions work on the assumption that everything tastes nice when it's swaddled in Dairy Milk chocolate. Which it does. A bloated, over-ripe corpse dredged from a polluted canal would taste nice if it was ­encased in a Dairy Milk shell. If it was coated in Hershey's, you'd find yourself glumly picking the chocolate off to get at the sludgey grey flesh ­beneath. And that's a FACT.


Charlie Brookner, The Guardian, 7 January 2010

Comments in chronological order

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  • LabourStoleMyCash LabourStoleMyCash

    25 Jan 2010, 12:12AM

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  • Scarey2001 Scarey2001

    25 Jan 2010, 12:17AM

    I completely agree with the Hershey's description. I had some once and instantly described it to coleagues as 'coffee grounds floating in bile'.

    Revolting guff.

  • Gummibarchen Gummibarchen

    25 Jan 2010, 12:21AM

    ok, no I wasn't first *grumble*

    But charlie is absolutely right about american chocolate. Now, don't even get me started on American cheese (can we have that for next week's article?)

  • Kibblecross Kibblecross

    25 Jan 2010, 12:25AM

    Crappy British chocolate is "one of the few home comforts you miss while you're abroad"? God spare us. Not if you've lived in Belgium or a dozen other places where they have food that's judged on its taste not on the familiarity of some brand name. Nostalgie de la boue? Just because there are things the Americans do even worse than us doesn't give us the right to feel good about being not as rubbish as the most arrogant nation in the world.

  • Darryl Darryl

    25 Jan 2010, 12:35AM

    Hersheys DOES taste rubbish. I assume it's because they haven't changed the recipe since the war. A sort of compounded pound of chocolate grease stirred in with a gallon of sugar. Vile. Hershey kisses are the worst of them all.

  • Zadokk Zadokk

    25 Jan 2010, 12:36AM

    It's funny, Charlie, I always thought our chocolate was sweeter than theirs but admittedly I haven't sampled much in the way of American 'candy' so perhaps my sample size was too small. But one things is for sure is that it was a horrible experience. Like you I used to get excited when relatives or friends brought chocolate back from America... until you taste it. It's the sort of thing that sits lurching at the back of your cupboard, which you only eat when there's no other chocolate in the house and you would go out to get some proper stuff if it wasn't raining. Hell I'd probably go out if it was raining to avoid having to eat it.

    If the Americans have any sense (not holding my breath) they won't change a thing about Cadbury's; if they do then they should know that the fickle British public won't stand for it and they'll buy something else.

  • NeoPunk NeoPunk

    25 Jan 2010, 12:38AM

    I concur on Hershey's and Cheetos, the former tasted like cardboard and the latter tasted like corn, just corn with cheese dust on.

    Mountain Dew however is brilliant, probably due to all the chemicals in it that are banned here.

  • jaymonte jaymonte

    25 Jan 2010, 12:51AM

    Cadbury's Dairy Milk (20% solids) 49g, 55p, widely available no stars
    Not real chocolate. It's sugary and thick, without a prominent taste of cocoa. It's just sugar and fat.

    Guardian article by chocolatier Paul A Young

  • RomeAnthem RomeAnthem

    25 Jan 2010, 1:02AM

    Nestle totally ruined the Kit Kat (remember when it came in a foil wrapper and had nice chocolate on it?). Kraft have totally ruined the Terry's chocolate orange. Don't get me started on the pale imitation of Opal Fruits that Starburst are either.

    It's only a matter of time before some foreign idiot ruin the taste of Cadburys as well.

    Unfortunately it is not just foreign companies that ruin old favourites but supposedly British companies as well.

    What Walkers have done to their crisps is an abomination. The new ish oil they cook them in has totally ruined the taste and texture of the crisps. I do not believe for one second that it is any "healthier" either.

    What they have done to brands they have brought is even worse. Frazzles are now terrible. Quavers used to have a very pleasant understated cheese flavour, now it is ridiculously ovepowering. Smiths crisps are nothing like they used to be.

    The only expception to this are Monster Munch which are now brilliant again.

    Can these companies please go back to the old much better recipes please?

  • BlackChat BlackChat

    25 Jan 2010, 1:05AM

    Very good, Mr Brooker, but you don't go far enough. We need a concerted campaign to Keep Kraft out of Kadbury's (for I fear the loss of that initial C, Kharlie, is only a matter of time..) and we need it fast. Not only might a loss of taste - in every sense of that word - ensue, but let's not forget the whole Quaker work ethos and the delightful 'village' of Bournville. I had a bunch of great aunts and uncles who worked all their lives at Cadbury's and lived in Bournville. It's very special.

    @Kibblecross - I fear you miss the point a little, though I understand what you are trying to say. Of course there are many brands of chocolate around the world that might taste better than Cadbury's, but for its price, availability and wonderful history, I think it is worth trying to preserve the company that makes it.

    Hershey's tastes like it has been left in a shop window for 5 years. Nasty stuff. And don't get me started on Kraft cheese... total Krap.

  • RossMcRoss RossMcRoss

    25 Jan 2010, 1:05AM

    Hmmm, every since the "My inbox overflowed with blood-curdling death threats" following the 'assassination' incident, you've been uncharacteristically nice as pie about the United States....

    "the thought of the ­Americans ? so good at so many things"

    Yes. Invasions. Human rights. Health care. Wal Mart. Rush Limbaugh. Enormous cars. The 'Holidays'. Economic catastrophe. 'Freedom'. Guns. Executing people. Fox News.

    Come on Charlie...what happened to you man, you used to be cool...

  • bedfont bedfont

    25 Jan 2010, 1:11AM

    "Kraft had bought Cadbury came as a bitter blow."

    It can't leave a bitter taste with so little you know actual cocoa in it?

    No doubt they'll replace all the milk with vegetable extracts. What does a glass and a half mean in reality BTW?

    Really aside from the old history of Cadbury as a decent company there is no reason to be upset here. Except if like Man United it's being bought with junk bonds.

    Comparing the merits of Cadburys Nestle (what they sell here) and Hersheys is like talking about the best team in the football conference for a chocolate lover.

  • MainlyConfounded MainlyConfounded

    25 Jan 2010, 1:11AM

    It's not even universal - New Zealand has had a Cadbury's factory since the 19th century, and even Kiwi Cadbury's is cack. Even foreign Cadbury's can't do Cadbury's. People have their rellies in the old country bring Dairy Milk with them when they visit (as well as gravy granules).

  • Jehenna Jehenna

    25 Jan 2010, 1:18AM

    I totally agree about Hersheys - cannot understand what the fuss is about.
    (Reese's Pieces now... that's awesome.)

    I quite like Australian Cadbury's chocolate and of course the UK Cadbury's.

    But having lived in France for a few years with more than ample access to all the delights of mass produced 'swiss' chocolate and hand made stuff, including suchards, which are to die for, I would still buy Cadbury's every time I made it back to the UK for a sanity break.
    (and cheddar, could never get decent cheddar in France)

    Sometimes you don't want an amazing taste sensation that's going to blow your socks off and cause you to start having cravings akin to heroin addiction. You just want some chocolate. And Cadbury makes nice chocolate, which is consistently good.

    Marabou (Swedish) is nice chocolate too, but I really hope Cadbury chocolate stays the same.

  • HolidayPirate HolidayPirate

    25 Jan 2010, 1:24AM

    Indeed, Mountain Dew was something the Americans got right and we never seemed to take to enough. As for Hersheys, well, it DOES taste like sick (which you can remotely taste in M+M's, by the by), but then, maybe American sick tastes different? Like copper coins or styrofoam or something.

  • theunknowing theunknowing

    25 Jan 2010, 1:25AM

    i'm from the seattle and i've had your cadgberry candy before. you brits are whackos. that stuff tastes like solidified liquid proteins with a heap of sugar poured in and colored brown. shit, you guys should visit america where they grow the real stuff. heck! go to an american cocoa farm and watch them make the stuff. cadgberry is a vile candy that only the primitive brit tongue could describe as a chocolate bar. heck! you guys are whackos. can't you visit a county like paris or another european state like switzerburg. they make real chocolate. is britain really part of Europa. you guys seriously lag behind in the culture stakes!!

  • BarringtonWomble BarringtonWomble

    25 Jan 2010, 1:25AM

    You said eating crisps was like a cat doing a fart in your mouth, Charlie.

    You're a bit of a drama queen.


  • JoeBrownridge JoeBrownridge

    25 Jan 2010, 1:26AM

    yep, as said above, herseys tastes like sick. it literally does.#

    and as said above, again, mountain dew is the only thing we should import from America.

    now i'm going to go and eat my 230G bar of Cadburies :)

  • MarkAnthony MarkAnthony

    25 Jan 2010, 1:28AM

    have gregs stop giving you free stuff charlie?
    but your bang on ... Nothing compares to cadbury chocolate...
    those damn brussel twats said it wasn't chocolate because it didn't have enough soild coca powder... and we said no ... cadbury's is brillant and your wrong johnny so fuck off
    its one of our proudest accomplishments ...
    chocolate so good it makes you proud to be british

  • BTM1 BTM1

    25 Jan 2010, 1:28AM

    Love dairy milk but it's true it tastes terrible elsewhere. Down under and on the sub-continent it's just rank. The most dis-heartening change to British snack food is cheese and onion in blue packets and salt and vinegar in green. Still just wrong 15 or 20 years later.

  • ThomPaine ThomPaine

    25 Jan 2010, 1:32AM

    Hear, hear re: Hershey's chocolate being disappointing.

    Many years ago, almost the first thing I did on setting foot in America was to buy a big bar (having emerged from the Subway at the New York Port Authority building, as I recall).

    I had seen adverts of it in comics and magazines all my life, so imagined it must be the manna of the Gods themselves.

    But instead it turned out to be crumbly, brittle shite that tastes of chalk. (Actually milk power, which is what it mostly is, apart from sugar).

    Mrs Paine, an American, can't stand Hershey's-anything, or most American sweets. It's Sour Patch Kids for her, or nothing.

    Still, they have dark chocolate Mars Bars.

    And constitutional democracy with a division of Church and State, the sweetest thing of all.

  • phild1 phild1

    25 Jan 2010, 1:38AM

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  • lewkeo lewkeo

    25 Jan 2010, 1:50AM

    Holidaypirate i'm a Brit living in the states, I have American children and i've had the misfortune to taste their Yank vomit(don't ask how). i can confirm that.

    A - American puke tastes just like our Great British vomit.

    B- Hersheys tastes like sugar plastic with a Puke/vomit finish.

    They love Hershey's over here my Rush Limbaugh loving in laws get all touchy cos my kids only like Brit chocs like Crunchie,diary milk ,Aero, flake etc which they score from our local rather twee, Brit themed shop(Barbours and Marmite etc). The owner of the store says all the tweenie hipsters in town spend their candy allowance on Brit chocs.

    Hersheys is shite imagine being a young, half starved Euro waif during WW2 and being throw a bar of chocolate from a passing, bullishly handsome American GI , only to sink your teeth in to the confection of liberation and taste vomit!

  • annon101 annon101

    25 Jan 2010, 1:56AM

    Does anyone think it's a tad grim that Philip Morris (aka Altria) has bought Cadburys?

    Do we care that one of the world's largest cancer providers now owns some more of what made blighty famous?

    Well done Britain.

  • JohnnyLilburne JohnnyLilburne

    25 Jan 2010, 1:58AM


    It's not even universal - New Zealand has had a Cadbury's factory since the 19th century, and even Kiwi Cadbury's is cack

    Have you ever tasted Kiwi Marmite? It's cack on steroids and seems to have more sugar than a bar of chocolate.

    It's not easy to get real Marmite here in Aus. I make a twice yearly very-long-drive to a shop that specialises in UK food imports to stock up. Apparently they aren't allowed to retail it because of the licensing agreement with the people that make Marmite in NZ.

    The actually purchase process is hilarious. You have to wait until there are no other customers around and then ask in a suitably conspiratorial whisper if they have any proper Marmite. The assistant glances around and if it's all clear she goes to the stockroom and comes back with the jar in a brown paper bag. It's like some tacky Hollywood representation of a drug deal or a gangster film about prohibition.

  • littlesecrets littlesecrets

    25 Jan 2010, 1:58AM

    Im heading out to buy as much "real" Cadbury's chocolate as possible before they start Americanising (or is that Americanizing...ho ho) it and keep it forever in a my chocolate castle only whipping it out to impress the ladies.

    "Daddy, what's a Euro?"

    "I dunno"

  • Thetwelfthdoctor Thetwelfthdoctor

    25 Jan 2010, 1:59AM

    My Mum is a spy so she gets about and, on one of her jaunts that wasn?t behind the Iron Curtain, she went to New York and, fittingly, brought me back a single Hershey Bar. Brooker ain?t wrong: I couldn?t even finish it. So, to appear cosmopolitan, I took it into work and passed it around beloved co-workers offering them the chance to taste genuine foreign ?chocolate?. Even then I couldn?t give it away.

    I imagine that, as it got chucked, good old British bacteria, who still have standards, will have tuned their flagellums up at it as well. I suspect that to this day, like all of Disney?s Flubber merchandise produced for the 1963 film Son of Flubber (made from rubber and mineral oil and eventually all recalled because it was harmful ? who?d have thought, Disney?) it?s now terminally clogging up the planet and seeping through concrete from the hole it was buried in. Undying.

    So America has that muck and all of Europe seems intent on us reclassifying our beloved chocolate as a cocoa-deficient processed milk product. Talk about under siege.

    On a separate note I was in a Co-op shop in the centre of Manchester the other day and saw the shop sign ?potato chips? on a stand of crisps. I fear we?ve entered the final days? and someone needs to take a stand now.

  • decisivemoment decisivemoment

    25 Jan 2010, 2:01AM

    Charlie, you're right about Hershey's. They use a higher cocoa content than the British and yet still they manage to screw it up. But you've obviously not delved deeply enough into American crisps/potato chips. Have you had Pringle's? Have you had Kettle Chips? Have you gone into the snack food section of a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe's in the US and partaken? All kinds of good stuff.

    But with the image of vomit flavored Hershey bars stuck in my head, I'm now off out to Walgreens to buy some Lindt milk chocolate with hazelnuts and clear both the palate and the mind. No chances taken here, folks.

    PS. The best, absolute number one British milk chocolate is Galaxy Minstrels. No contest. Completely addictive.

  • HelwynBallard HelwynBallard

    25 Jan 2010, 2:04AM

    american artificial junk food is so rubbish because their real junk food is so cheap and plentiful. You can't walk down the street without being blasted with ads for double steak/bacon/cheese/butter/ham/chicken burgers for about $1.50. Who needs wotsits when you've got prime hormone-reared beef and 19 million kinds of cheese?

  • Thetwelfthdoctor Thetwelfthdoctor

    25 Jan 2010, 2:15AM

    > But then American mass-market snack food is downright bad in general.

    It goes further than that. We had coach-loads of American school kids come over a few years ago (with medicine-drug chests that would have matched Olympic athletes) and they complained that the beef in McDonald?s burgers tasted funny. Now, as a vegetarian, I?m certainly not one to stick up for those spreading-like-cancer plastic restaurants, but it turned out the difference was that Yank cows are so pumped full of steroids that it affects the taste and all the heifers must resemble Sylvester Stallone.

  • RobTaylor RobTaylor

    25 Jan 2010, 2:22AM

    Mr Brooker,

    For all your skills of rhetoric, you have the palette of a singed arsehole.

    Certainly, British chocolate is superior to any American product. However, it does not compare with such delights as Valrhona, Amedei or Cluziel.

    The enjoyment of Cadburys by so many Brits is purely a matter of nostalgia: what seems great in childhood memories will be great when tried as an adult (even if not). Hence the reason adults fondly remember such atrocities as Cadburys, Thundercats, Pong, Space Invaders and much of the 80's music and fashion scene.

  • suedeblade suedeblade

    25 Jan 2010, 2:46AM

    Don't worry, Kraft will soon be peddling a "chocolate style" Cadbury's product made from "genuine" lard byproducts, just like Kraft cheese.

    "In 2002, the FDA warned Kraft that Velveeta was being sold with packaging that described it as a "pasteurized processed cheese food," which the FDA claimed was false ("cheese food" must contain at least 51% cheese). Velveeta is now sold as a "cheese product," using a term for items that contain less than 51% cheese."

  • clutterbot clutterbot

    25 Jan 2010, 2:51AM

    I lived in Canada for a year. So desperate did I become for british chocolate (which I thought I didn't even like that much) I would spend the equivalent of over a quid to get a specially imported Twirl (not quite as mad as the £2 I spent on a tin of ambrosia creamed rice with my eyes almost filling with tears of joy). I didn't realise it, but whenever I live overseas the first things I crave when back in the land of WHSmiths are a) a Twirl b) a cheese sandwich-any old crap plastic cheese one will be better than most cheese abroad.

    Nearly all north american chocolates seem to have a lot of caramel and peanut in them. However, I did come around to Reeses cups which I became addicted to. These are now sold in the UK so I now have no reason to ever leave the land of proper trash food.

    I agree cadburys is not high quality chocolate. I like fancy chocolate, but thats not the point of cadburys. The point is, you are hungry, you are at a train station, a cadburys twirl is the only thing that will take away the pain of your train being delayed by an hour. Hersheys would make you chuck yourself in front of a train.

  • suedeblade suedeblade

    25 Jan 2010, 2:53AM

    "Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is a United States division of Swiss candymaker Lindt & Spr√ľngli" Calif. no more!

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