Cadbury Bournville – The Chocolate with a Legacy

A piece of chocolate is something that most people, young and old, savour.

“A little chocolate doesn’t hurt”, I often find assuring myself whenever any weight issue pops up in the mind. The self-assurance works like magic and kicking aside all doubts I reach out for a piece (albeit a small one) of Bournville.

Cadbury, the chocolate that we all delight in, is my brand for today.



The British Legacy – Cadbury in the 19th century


It is intriguing to imagine that the Cadbury chocolate owes its existence to John Cadbury, who lived some 200 years back, and sold cocoa and drinking chocolate in 1824 his shop at Bull Street, Birmingham, in UK. He eventually handed over the business to his sons Richard and George. 

93 Bull Street, Birmingham in the 1830’s. John Cadbury’s original shop

In 1878, the Cadbury brothers found a special site for their new factory between some villages, about four miles south of central Birmingham. The site comprised a meadow with a cottage and a trout stream – the Bourn, from which it derived its name Bourneville.

Potrait of Bournville
A Potrait of Bournville, a place full of green spaces.

Thus the factory in a garden was born in 1879. A pear tree from the garden still stands outside the main Cadbury reception at the Bournville factory.

No man ought to be condemned to live in a place where a rose cannot grow.’  ~ George Cadbury.

Cadbury in the 20th century


Swiss milk chocolate dominated the British market in the 19th century– a situation the Cadbury family set out to challenge in the 20th Century. Cadbury Dairy Milk was launched in June 1905, and became hugely popular. The first Bournville chocolate was launched in 1908.

Cadbury dairy Milk 1905
Cadbury Dairy Milk 1907, Bournville Chocolate 1908

When the second World War began in 1939, raw materials were short in supply and rationing was enforced.  Cadbury Dairy Milk came off the shelves, instead there was Ration Chocolate, made with dried skimmed milk powder. Once the war ended, the company worked hard to restore business as usual. 

Many Cadbury brands – Cadbury Dairy Milk, Whole Nut, Fruit and Nut and Cadbury Creme Eggs  saw massive increases in sales in the 1970s, partially due to hugely successful and memorable TV advertising campaigns. 

In 1990, Cadbury World opened in Bournville on a site next to the Cadbury factory and headquarters, attracting 350,000 visitors in its first year



….And the 21st century 


In 2008, Cadbury launched the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership through which they worked with the government and cocoa farmers in Ghana to help the farmers increase their yields and produce top quality cocoa beans.

The 21st century has also seen the recall of some Cadbury products in 2007, 2008 and recently in 2014 in Malaysia.

In 2010, Kraft Foods bought Cadbury and its global snacks business under the name of Mondelez International. Sentiments ran high in the company and in UK, as the Cadbury management resigned. The takeover also prompted a revamp of the Takeover laws governing how foreign firms buy UK companies.

I had the opportunity of hearing the takeover story from none other than the ex Cadbury Chairman Sir Roger Carr at London Business School. 

The heat gradually settled down and a new global research and devlopment centre was opened in Bournville to put new ideas to test.

A recent recipe change of the Crème Egg doesn’t seem to have gone down well. Cadbury India, which has been in India since 1948, may be rechristened Mondelez India.

Nah!  The name doesn’t strike a chord.


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    By: Somali K Chakrabarti

    Hi there ! I am a management and leadership coach and a ‘çlinical blogger’. Well, that’s what my family & friends call me now ! Here, I tell stories of different brands, how people relate to the brands and the values, beliefs and emotions that they associate with the brands. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

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14 thoughts on “Cadbury Bournville – The Chocolate with a Legacy

    • May 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you Kiran . The vision behind Bourneville, was to shift the factory out of the cramped city to an green place with trees & gardens and adequate open space for expansion.

  • May 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    What a wonderful place to have a factory ! I would love to work there for less pay 😀
    And yes That Mondelez is ‘Excuse me ..what is that ?”
    Nice post Somali 🙂

  • May 7, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Yes the name does not ring a bell..they cant kill the brand it would be too costly

    • May 8, 2015 at 4:05 am

      Harakiri if they rename the chocolate. They may limit the change to the company name. Mondelez is like a tongue twister.

  • May 8, 2015 at 5:44 am

    A well-researched post, Somali. Bournville is such a beautiful place…

    The thing that amuses me most is, the name Cadbury has become synonymous with chocolates…we often say,”Cadbury khabi?” …even when we want to mean other brands like Nestle or Amul…. 😀

    • May 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks Maniparna. Yes undoubtedly it is a beautiful place…and that’s an interesting point about the use of Cadbury in place of chocolate, I think its more in Bengali that we use cadbury interchangeably for chocolate. In north and west, the word chocolate is still used 🙂

  • May 8, 2015 at 6:23 am

    I enjoyed reading the history and evolution of Cadbury Bournville based on your solid research and personal experience.

  • May 9, 2015 at 3:24 am

    Cadbury is a very strong brand in India with great acceptance and recall value. To cannibalize the name would be hara kiri. Strong brands have been sold and acquired and have continued with their old grandeur with the new management. Every little change in packaging to pricing needs a intense market campaign. Re- christening would not be a prudent move.

  • May 16, 2015 at 7:20 am

    Well researched Somali …and yes the ad campaigning of Cadbury has always been classy !


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