John Cadbury is known to be a famous and successful businessman and the creator of the all-time favorite chocolate manufacturer brand, Cadbury. After hard work in developing a chocolate bar, he managed to create something unique that has been around for more than 200 years now. He was not only a good chocolatier but also did many great deeds in life and dedicated himself to other people’s well-being.
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Childhood & Early Years
John Cadbury was born in a Quaker family in Birmingham on August 12th, 1801. His parents were Richard Tapped Cadbury and Elizabeth Head. The family had moved to Birmingham from western England.
He was the fifth child; there were three boys and two girls in the family. He got his earlier education at Crosfields Quaker School. Because he was a Quaker, he was not able to study at a university or join the military. Eventually, he became a pupil of John Cudworth in 1816. During that time, he managed to learn the retail tea trade. Pretty soon, he became very good at his job and gained the trust of his employers.
Adult Life & Family
John Cadbury was married twice. His first wife was Priscilla Dymond, to whom he got married in 1826. He was 24 years old at that time. Unfortunately, the wife passed away in 1826. He remarried after six years, in 1832, to Candia Barrow. She was the eldest daughter of George Barrow.
The large family of John Cadbury consisted of six sons and one daughter: John, Richard, Maria, George, Joseph, Edward, and Henry.
First Steps in the Business Industry
After some time, John Cadbury changed jobs and started working at the Bond Tea House in London. He came across the East India Company and got insights into the tea, coffee, and cocoa trade. He immediately saw the potential that cocoa had and wrote to his father.
His father supported John’s idea and gave him the money to help him implement his plans. With that money, John Cadbury opened the grocer’s shop on 93 Bulls Street in 1824. His store caused curiosity in people and attracted visitors. In the store, he sold mainly silk and drapery. In his shop, he had set up a coffee roaster and a tea dealer service.
His shop was actually innovative in Birmingham. It had a very unique glass window. Back in the day, glass windows were a pretty big deal. In the shop, he had a Chinese clerk who always wore oriental clothing. There was always a very pleasing aroma and a pleasant atmosphere in the store. They also offered beverages and breakfast. John was making the cocoa beverages with a pestle and mortar.
Interest in Cocoa
John Cadbury’s business was going pretty well in Birmingham. The silk and drapery were sold well. However, people loved the atmosphere and the hot drinks offered by the business.
In the manufacturing process, his interest in cocoa grew, so he decided to work on it and decided to open a factory. He actually started working on the factory idea in 1831. He did continuous experiments on different types of cocoa. He was already offering his customers six different types of drinking chocolate and eleven cocoas in 1842. The cocoa was served as cake, nibs, powder, and flakes.
Sweet Success – “Cadbury Brothers”
In 1831, John Cadbury expanded his warehouse and started to produce different kinds of drinking chocolate and cacao commercially. In 1847, his business was expanded again, and he was moved to a larger factory. At this new factory, they had access to major British ports. At this time, taxes on cocoa were reduced, making it much more affordable. He believed that drinking chocolate would prevent them from drinking the demon drink, alcohol.
His brother, Benjamin, joined him in business in 1846 and they became partners. Their shop in Birmingham was renamed Cadbury Brothers. They were appointed as cocoa manufacturers by Queen Victoria in 1853. So, they had the first Royal Warrant for chocolate making. The company not only cared for profit but also wanted to create a better life for its employees.
Cadbury’s competitors back in the day were Fry’s of Bristol. The first “chocolate for eating” was invented in 1847 by Joseph Fry. First, an industrially manufactured chocolate candy brand was called Fry’s chocolate cream, released in 1866. Cadbury introduced the brand of the chocolate bar in 1849. Fry’s and Cadbury’s chocolate was displayed at the trade fair. The fair was held in Bingley Hall, Birmingham, and attracted public attention.
How the Product was Promoted
To advertise his shop, John Cadbury used various ways. His first ad appeared in the Birmingham Gazette on March 1st, 1824. He was presenting his new product and introducing Cocoa Nibs. In the article, it was mentioned that they had the most nutritious breakfast beverages to offer. Also, when he launched the “Cocoa Essence,” he promoted the product by claiming that it was used as a medical testimonial.
All his claims were eventually summed up in the slogan: “Absolutely pure, therefore best“. The slogan became the main character of thirty-year advertising campaigns.
The first mass-produced box of chocolates manufactured by the Cadbury company was sold in 1868. They were already selling individual pieces of chocolate bars at the time.
In the 1880s, cocoa was different from what we are familiar with today. It contained over 50% fat, so it was really hard for the body to digest and consume it. After John Cadbury’s sons took over the business, they started manufacturing a new product, Cadbury Cocoa Essence. They manufactured it with a hand-operated hydraulic press.
In 1897, Cadbury’s milk chocolate bar was launched. It was made from cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar, dark chocolate, and milk powder. However, people’s interest in that product was pretty low. So, in 1904, George Cadbury decided to create a product that would be better than the competitors’ offerings. So, he planned to put more milk in the bars. In 1905, Cadbury Dairy Milk was launched. The chocolate candy bar brought Cadbury huge success, and it soon became a megabrand.
Today, Cadbury Chocolate is very famous and loved by many people. Cadbury’s signature packaging colors are purple and gold. Their famous products are Crunchie, Caramello, Picnic, Chocolate Buttons, Curly Wurly, and many others.
A Man of High Morale
As we already mentioned, in his shop, John Cadbury sold drinking chocolate and cocoa. Back then, chocolate was still a luxury item, so the shop was aimed at the upper class. John was strictly against alcohol and wanted to replace it with tea, coffee, and chocolate. He believed that alcohol was the main factor that kept people in poverty. That is why he wanted to start the mass production of chocolate. That way, he could offer an alternative to alcohol.
He was like his father in that matter. He was strongly against social injustice. He had this kind spirit from his family, who held anti-slavery campaigns. He even held campaigns that were against animal cruelty and child exploitation. He was the creator of the Animal Friend Society and even became a forerunner of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
He was a man of the people who was appointed to the Board of Street Commissioners of Birmingham in 1829. In 1851, he even became chairman. He practically devoted his work to the temperance movement. He believed that all the troubles in society had a practical solution.
John Cadbury and his brother wanted to create a model village for their workers. They wanted to create it away from Birmingham, but they could not manage to fulfill their idea. Later on, John’s sons continued to fulfill his wish.
Not an End, But a New Beginning
In 1855, John Cadbury’s second wife passed away from tuberculosis. It led him to a deep, very bad depression. As a result, his interest in business and manufacturing has declined. In 1860, he started to dissolve the “Cadbury Brothers” partnership, and his two sons took over the business. So, since then, the retail business was mainly led by Richard Barrow Cadbury and George Cadbury, who were John Cadbury’s sons.
Currently, Cadbury is not a family-owned business anymore and has been acquired by Mondelez International. However, it is still one of the world’s largest and most well-known chocolate brands.
Well-deserved Love and Respect from People
The family had developed the Cadbury’s factory, which is located in the UK at the original manufacturing site of the business. An interesting fact is that for over 100 years now, the district around the factory has been dry. This means that the alcohol is not sold in shops or even at pubs and bars.
The locals wanted to maintain that “tradition” and even fought in court for it. The process in court was held in 2007. It was between the residents and the biggest supermarket chain, “Tesco.” As a result, the local residents won the process and prevented all the outlets in the area from selling the alcohol.
Even from this example, we can see that John Cadbury was a legendary person whose name is still known and has stayed in history for more than two centuries now. Not only was he a wonderful chocolatier, but his beliefs and intentions were truly kind, and they were followed by his actions.
Nato is a content writer and researcher with a background in psychology. She’s passionate about writing about the candy industry and exploring the cultural significance of sweets and treats. She believes that the stories behind our favorite snacks can reveal a great deal about our values.
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