The Story of Cadbury’s by Colin Pitt.

89 Members of the History Group enjoyed a stimulating talk by Colin Pitt, Education Manager of Cadbury World. In a humorous and interactive manner he unfolded the history of Cadbury’s, from its foundation in 1824 to the present time.

The Company was founded by John Cadbury, a wealthy Quaker. Many Quakers were very powerful and influential families at this time, Christian philanthropists seeking to improve the wellbeing and welfare of the working classes. Examples of Quaker companies known to us include Cyrus Clark, shoe maker; Joseph Rowntree, chocolatier; Terry’s chocolatier; Bryant and May, match manufacturers; J S Fry, chocolatier; Huntley and Palmers, biscuit manufacturers; Barclay and Lloyd, bankers. 

The History of the company began in 1824, John Cadbury starting as a chocolate retailer in Lower Bull Street, Birmingham.  In 1831 John became a manufacturer of cocoa, receiving a Royal Warrant in 1854.  From Bull Street he moved to Crooked Lane, then to Bridge Street and on the 8th September 1879, the company moved to Bourneville, ‘the Factory in a Garden’. During this time, in 1861, his sons Richard and George took over. The company had been struggling for a while, but in 1866 cocoa essence was produced and this turned the company around. Cadbury’s was one of the first companies in the world to employ a doctor and a dentist who gave free care to employees. Health and education for employees was a primary concern of the Cadbury family.

As a matter of principle, the Cadbury family wouldn’t employ married women and girls who left the company to get married were presented with a Bible. 

At the end of the 19th Century Cadbury ‘caskets’ filled with chocolates were produced, and when the contents had been eaten the caskets were found to be very useful for storing jewellery, love letters, handkerchiefs etc.  Colin showed us some examples of these caskets.

Colin then spoke about some of the products for which Cadbury’s were famous, and the members were surprised at how long some of these chocolates had been around. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk was first introduced in 1905. Cadbury’s Crunch and Cadbury’s cream eggs were introduced in 1924. In 1938 Roses was launched. The shape of the box is iconic. Cadbury’s Milk Tray first hit the shops in 1915. In 1918 – 1919 Jelly Babies were introduced, and were first known as ‘Peace Babies’ in the aftermath of the Great War. In the 1920s and 1930s there was a global expansion into the Commonwealth. In 1938 a Pyrex casserole dish was filled with Cadbury’s Roses, as a Christmas gift, which the members found to be a most unromantic present!  Commemorative flat tins of chocolates were used by countless generations of children as pencil boxes.

Lots of senior members remembered the products and the children’s clubs. There were plenty of old artefacts to take us back down ‘Memory Lane’ and the interactive meeting encouraged many comments and much audience participation.

In 1902 a visitor department was first set up and in 2012 the Cadbury colour purple was patented as a trademark. 

More recent history of the Company was then explained – mergers, takeovers etc. In 1919 Cadbury’s and Fry merged. In 1962 they became a PLC. In 1969 Cadbury/Schweppes merged. In 2008 Cadbury/Schweppes demerged. In 2010 they were taken over by Kraft Foods and in October 2012 they split into Kraft and Mondolies.

Colin spoke with humour and included lots of anecdotes. He highlighted the nostalgia of the products and brought with him a lot of memorabilia. It was a most enjoyable talk.


Heidy Hague