Battle of the chocolate bars

The Hershey chocolate company bans import of British Cadbury chocolate products.

flickr.com

flickr.com

Anna Frost, Writer

As far as I am concerned, Valentine’s Day’s main purpose is providing everyone, single or involved, with an excuse to enjoy chocolate. That being said, I am quite serious about my chocolate and take issue with American chocolate companies that sell chocolate products with only the bare minimum amount of actual chocolate necessary to legally label it as such. Chocolate deserves our respect as a delicious treat, and recently another insult has been thrown in its face by none other than the Hershey chocolate company.

THE BAN

After suing New Jersey company Let’s Buy British for trademark infringement for importing Cadbury brand chocolates from Britain to sell in the U.S., Hershey settled the issue when LBB agreed to no longer import Cadbury chocolate, which aside from the famous bars and eggs also includes English Kit-Kats, Rolos and Maltesers. Additionally, the ban affects Yorkie bars and Toffee Crisps because Hershey argues they too closely resemble York Peppermint Patties and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, respectively.

Understandably, many British ex-pats living in America and other Cadbury chocolate fans have reacted in a hostile manner to this development. A petition protesting Hershey legal action on MoveOn.org has collected over 35,000 signatures, and over 1,000 chocolate lovers signed another petition on Change.org. Now, if you are not currently a regular Cadbury consumer, you may wonder at this point why you should care about this news. This issue is bigger than just chocolate though, it goes back to corporate greed and lack of respect for quality products.

A DIFFERENT RECIPE

Hershey has the legal rights to produce chocolate with the Cadbury name in the U.S. However, they have tweaked the recipe in a way that makes it cheaper to produce. Sugar is the first ingredient in the American Cadbury chocolate produced by Hershey, whereas the British product lists milk first, meaning that British Cadbury has a higher milk content and less sugar. Hershey also adds more preservatives to their version of Cadbury. Therefore, since the recipe is not the same, the Cadbury chocolate produced in America is not true Cadbury chocolate, complete with a different flavor and texture.

LBB imports true Cadbury chocolate and other British sweets into the U.S. and sells them to British specialty shops, not mainstream supermarkets that buy their American recipe Cadbury from Hershey. LBB Imports President Nathan Dulley estimated that about $50 million worth of British chocolate is sold in the United States each year, according to a BBC article about the ban. Now while this may seem like a huge sum of money, BBC called the amount miniscule compared to the rest of the American chocolate sales.

So while one does understand Hershey desire to protect their brand, this move seems like a petty attempt to take out a niche import market in order to gain a small boost in income. Since the complaint is that Hershey products’ flavor does not measure up to the original recipe, maybe Hershey worried that if those blindly buying their products got a taste of the real Cadbury chocolates they would not want to go back to the American imposter. However, judging from the outrage from stateside Cadbury consumers, some of which use the hashtag #BoycottHershey to voice their concerns, they may not gain that extra money after all.