The color of the package is the same, the mark on the package is the same, but chocoholics have always had the lingering suspicion that what is inside is not – in fact – quite the same.
Many Cadbury fans have long suspected that the chocolate we get in Australia differs from Cadbury bars abroad. That a dairy bar in Melbourne tastes different from a dairy bar in Manchester.
Now Cadbury has conceded that the rumors were correct. But the change in taste has nothing to do with, as some people think, as there is a special anti-fusion agent to prevent the bars from melting in the Australian heat. No, the real problem is simple: Tasmania.
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Cadbury staff are currently relaxing after producing some 12 million chocolate bunnies and as many as 300 million eggs to satisfy the voracious appetites of Australians and New Zealanders.
Earlier this year, news.com.au had access to the chocolate factory where these eggs are made. In addition to detailing the truth behind the rumor, the Cadbury Easter supremo – a full-time, year-round job – also revealed the Easter egg which was a worldwide success but which Australians could not bear.
The venerable brand, founded in 1824, holds 65% of the chocolate market in Australia, more than even its native United Kingdom.
Now owned by the American snack giant Mondelez, which also makes Oreo cookies, Pascals lollipops and – for whatever reason – Philadelphia cream cheese, the Easter egg center is in Ringwood, a suburb about half an hour northeast of Melbourne CBD.
Those hoping for something directly from the mind of author Roald Dahl may be disappointed. The Cadbury plant is less Willy Wonka and more health and safety at work. Everything is spotless, very visible and curly – so you don’t end up like Augustus Gloop being accidentally swept away on a chocolate river.
But there are flashes of sweet magic. Many conveyor belts and chutes are painted in Cadbury purple. Famous chocolate bar names appear on the ground – “Cherry Ripe Way” here, “Crunchie Room” there. And one, somewhat faded, indicates 17,000 km from the suburbs of Cadbury, Bournville, in Birmingham.
However, it is the smell that attracts you. It’s just as delicious as you dreamed of. Grilled and creamy, a roasted touch, it floats in the air like a welcoming cocoa hug.
CONSCIOUS FASHION RABBITS
Meaghan Brodie, Cadbury brand manager for Easter chocolate, is our guide. She explains that chocolate bars like crunchies and picnics are made here, as well as Easter confectionery while milk bars are produced in Hobart.
Ms. Brodie focused on the Cadbury rabbits that have had a makeover this year; they are more sassiers.
“We tried to make rabbits more fashion-conscious, a little cool for teenagers. We have rabbits with sunglasses and bandanas, ”she says as the Humpty Dumpty eggs pass along a belt below.
This year, Caramilk eggs and a wider range of Old Gold eggs, the latter to appeal to more mature palettes, will make their debut.
The company also makes seasonal chocolate at Christmas, but it is not a patch at Easter.
“At Christmas you have several products with which you compete – cherries, cookies and wine. But Easter is a chocolate event, it is about giving eggs and rabbits.”
Ms. Brodie is already working two years in advance, predicting which eggs we will salivate in 2022.
It won’t reveal what these new eggs will be, but it does give a hint: “The trends we’re seeing are things like dairy-free products, so we can look at that for Easter.”
Another trend is sustainability. Mondelez describes his self-administered “Cocoa Life” program as “tackling the complex challenges facing cocoa farmers, including climate change, gender inequality, poverty and child labor”.
Ms. Brodie concedes that all of her products do not yet carry this label. “Some of our eggs are, but we have to catch them and bring them all to Cocoa Life,” she says.
HOW THE EGGS ARE MANUFACTURED
At one end of the factory, which also features in an SBS documentary on Saturday, is the aptly named “chocolate room”. It is hot and humid and looks like the belly of a giant ship.
Here, the cocoa crumbs are whipped and swirled in liquid chocolate which slides gently out of the huge vats. The silky chocolate is then poured through giant vibrating sieves to remove all the sugar crystals before being pumped through pipes – a labeled milk, a black and a Boost – where it is extruded, poured or mold.
For solid eggs, the melted chocolate is poured into egg molds which are then squeezed together, cooled and shaken. Kind of like how you would make eggs at home – only load more.
Hollow eggs have a more complex process where a spoonful of chocolate is poured into a mold which is then turned at high speed, the force pushing the hot liquid to the edge of the mold. Again, it cools down instantly, then a machine coarsely hits the eggs, which are then hurriedly sent to a giant reel of shiny, perky packaging that wraps each one.
A diligent staff member checks for cracked or damaged eggs that are pulled from the line, their journey from Easter to an early end.
DIFFERENCE OF DAIRY MILK
As a gooey curtain of sweet caramel pours from a hole in the ceiling onto bare picnic bars, Ms. Brodie reveals that it is true that dairy bars can taste different from a nation to the other. Just ask the British backpackers, who swear that the milk bars produced in Bournville are different from their counterparts in Ringwood.
It is not raw cocoa, most of which comes from Ghana and is used in all Cadbury bars around the world.
“Milk is a substantial part of the product. Cadbury Dairy Milk is made with a glass and a half wherever it is made,” she says.
“But we use Tasmanian cows and they are different from British cows. Thus, chocolate always has a different taste because it depends on the milk you use and which brings out the flavor. “
REJECTED AUSTRALIA EASTER EGG
Australia often serves as a test bed market for products that will become more global in the future. The Marvelous Creations and Cadbury Dark Milk bars both debuted here before finding their way to Dublin’s supermarkets in Düsseldorf.
The new Cadbury logo, a more cursive rendering similar to the original signature, will be rolled out here before anywhere else.
But there was an Easter egg that came in the opposite direction, from Europe, which the Australians never took as well.
Called Cadbury Egg and Spoon, it consisted of a cardboard box containing four chocolate eggs filled with foam. He came with a spoon that could be used to remove the moose.
“It worked very well in the UK so we released it here, but it just didn’t ring out. People didn’t understand it very well or that ritual of sitting there and eating it like that – it didn’t work well, “says Brodie.
There are also no plans for the new Australian themed Easter – no kangaroos or dairy milk koalas. Even bilby chocolate has gone the way of the dodo.
Australians know what they want, Ms. Brodie said, “It’s all about the rabbit.”
The life force of this factory is thick, sweet and overly tempting chocolate. The place works on the stuff; you feel like you could gain pounds while breathing. Has the company ever considered making low-fat eggs for healthier times?
The very idea, says Ms. Brodie.
“Easter is a holiday that involves chocolate, it’s something people are looking forward to, and they love Easter eggs and the delicacy of chocolate.
“They wait for them as soon as they arrive in stores in January.”
In short, don’t expect the Ringwood factory to start pumping non-forgiving chocolates for one of the most forgiving times of the year.
If you want to go behind the scenes where all Cadbury eggs are made, SBS will broadcast The Chocolate Factory Easter Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The journalist traveled with the help of Mondelez Australia.