Five years after purchasing Cadbury for $19.6 billion, Hershey’s has decided to ban imports of all British-produced Cadbury chocolate into the United States—this includes Kit Kat bars, Toffee Crisps, Maltesers, and Yorkie Bars. They’ll still be selling Cadbury products in the U.S., but only with their modified, American chocolate recipes. Carry On Tea and Sympathy, a New York shop specializing in selling British imports, has received a lot of coverage over their Facebook page protest saying that “[Hershey’s] want us to sell their dreadful Cadbury approximation but we can’t in good conscience sell you such awful chocolate when we have made our reputation on selling you the yummy real English stuff.”
If you look at the numbers, there is simple evidence that suggests Hershey’s products aren’t as good as Cadbury. For one thing there’s more actual chocolate in standard, British milk chocolate. According to EU chocolate regulations, milk chocolate can’t allow any less than twenty per cent cocoa solids to be called milk chocolate in the UK and Ireland, while American milk chocolate can scrape by with a measley 10 per cent. Economics suggests that those minimum standards aren’t going to be exceeded; these companies will constantly toe that bottom line in order to maximize profits. Not only that, but the world’s chocolate supply is going down due to poor weather conditions in West Africa, and companies will try and stretch it even further with rising worldwide demand. British chocolate also has a higher fat content. The first ingredient listed on Cadbury’s plain milk chocolate is milk while the American-made Cadbury’s recipe lists their first ingredient as sugar, suggesting Cadbury will have a better tasting product. Fat is flavour, people.
Jeff Beckman, a representative for Hershey’s, told the Times, “It is important for Hershey to protect its trademark rights and to prevent consumers from being confused or misled when they see a product name or product package that is confusingly similar to a Hershey name or trade dress.” Suggesting there will be confusion implies they think that the American consumer is simply too stupid to read what they are buying. It also makes it look like they are trying to keep consumers from better products with an argument almost as thin as the cocoa content in their products. By denying American consumers English Cadbury chocolate, Hershey is giving the American consumer the old “my way or the highway” ultimatum.
Many are stating that they will boycott Hershey products, and a Twitter hashtag trend, #boycotthersheys, has started along with many online petitions to keep British chocolate in America. The petitions might not work, but the demand for a real, free market can’t be ignored.
So this Valentine’s Day, hold your sweetie tight, and take part in our Canadian right to buy chocolate from our Commonwealth counterpart across the pond—which, we should mention, still has a higher cocoa content than our own Canadian 12 per cent milk chocolate standard. Sure, our standard could be higher, but we know that as a country we’re too polite to ask for it to be raised.