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Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,344 ratings  ·  258 reviews
With a cast of characters that wouldn't be out of place in a Victorian novel, Chocolate Wars tells the story of the great chocolatier dynasties, through the prism of the Cadburys. Chocolate was consumed unrefined and unprocessed as a rather bitter, fatty drink for the wealthy elite until the late 19th century, when the Swiss discovered a way to blend it with milk and unlea ...more
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published October 19th 2010 by PublicAffairs (first published January 1st 2010)
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  1,344 ratings  ·  258 reviews


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Matt
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Matt by: BAM Endlessly Booked
With the coming of Easter in a few days, there is sure to be an abundance of chocolate around the house, at least for those who celebrate and have people with a sweet tooth. It got me to wondering about the world’s obsession with cocoa products and how it all came about. It would seem that no matter when someone goes, there are all forms of chocolate, placed in the most conspicuous of places. Deborah Cadbury—of the famed cocoa family—sets about not only to tell of the emergence of cocoa and choc ...more
Josie
[Audiobook]

Interesting in places, but at times very dry. I liked hearing about the history of Cadbury's, but got annoyed at the author's repeated description of the Quaker brothers as "patronising" and "patriarchal". If my boss decided to build a village, including an orchard and a swimming pool, where I could buy my own house and own it within 12 years, and took me and my fellow employees on days out (trips to the country, the seaside, etc.), then you wouldn't find me turning my nose up and sne
...more
Gwen
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. (Even though I ate a ridiculous amount of chocolate while reading it.) I can understand the criticism other reviewers have left: there's a lot more focus on Quakerism and business ethics than you would expect from the title and blurb. But as a Quaker with an interest in conscious capitalism, it was pretty much perfect for me!

It was great on a number of levels. Fun to hear about the formation of the big chocolate companies that are still around today, interesting to hear their
...more
Alice
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
The book appealed to me on a personal level because a) I love chocolate and b) I'm very interested in the idea of social entrepreneurship (trendy as it is now) and ethical business. I learned a lot about the history of chocolate as it came to the Western world.

However, I was frustrated by the misrepresentation of what the entire book is about! The book is called: "Chocolate Wars: The 150-year Rivalry between the World's Greatest Chocolate Makers."
1. "Wars" or "Rivalry" is a stretch. For the firs
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Mal Warwick
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
One of the best ways I’ve found to explore the factors that influence the grand sweep of modern history is to examine the stories of individual companies, industries, and commodities. And among the books I’ve found that have helped the most are The World in a Grain: The Story of Sand and How It Transformed Civilization by Vince Beiser, Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert, and Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism by Bartow J. Elmore. Now chocolate joins sand, cotton, an ...more
Priya
Dec 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dairy milk,Snickers,Kit Kat,M&M - so many forms in which chocolates bring a smile to faces around the world. White, dark, bitter, milky, plain, filled with nuts and fruit - this is one treat most of us cannot resist. This story of how the chocolate companies as we know them today came into being is equally fascinating to read.

From the time the Cadbury family entered the cocoa business in London in the early nineteenth century, offering a chocolate drink as a nutritious alternative to alcohol to
...more
Khairul Hezry
Jan 23, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Love Cadbury's Dairy Milk and when this book came out 10 years ago, I jumped on it excitedly because other than chocolate I also love history.

I was disappointed. I put down the book quarter of the way through and have been picking it up and putting it down again unfinished because it was just too boring. I expected the cut and thrusts of the rivalry between Cadbury and Kraft (as the title suggested) but all I got was mostly the life and times of the Cadbury family. Maybe the business shenanigans
...more
Deepthi
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
Chocolate lover or not, this is an enthralling read!
Jennifer (JC-S)
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘Business was not an end in itself; it was a means to an end.’

In writing this book, Deborah Cadbury set out to understand ‘the journey that took my deeply religious Quaker forebears from peddling tins of cocoa from a pony and trap around Birmingham to this mighty company that reached round the globe.’ It’s an interesting story, peopled with some fascinating characters, and spans almost 200 years from the beginnings of the business in 1824 to the takeover of the Cadbury chocolate business by Kraf
...more
Joyce Yee
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Do you ever wonder how your chocolate bar got to the store you bought it from? This book by Deborah Cadbury, a descendant of the Cadbury chocolatiers of England, describes the modern history of how chocolate was developed by companies such as Cadbury, Rowntree and Nestle's. What I found was that some of the major chocolatiers in England such as the Cadbury company, was founded and run by Quakers. Their principles included an emphasis on treating their employees in humane ways, including building ...more
Carl Williams
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
How much of history is the story of individuals (or families) and their efforts and struggles to change the world? How much of it is the sweeping nature movements and ideas, culture—their coming together, clashing, synthesizing?

This is the story of the Cadburys written by a Cadbury. It’s the story of the growth of the chocolate industry in Britain, America, and Europe. It’s told from the point of view, largely, of the kind of individual perseverance that is sometimes considered part of the Amer
...more
Richard Thompson
Jesse highly recommended this book, and I had thought it might be a good read-aloud, but by half way through the introduction we found ourselves ranting and fuming about the evils of late twentieth century capitalism and decided that this might not be the pleasant light read that we hoped it would be. It is an interesting story — a bit tangled with all the various players: Cadbury, Fry, Rowntree, Nestle, Hershey, and Mars as well as other minor players — but they writing isn't all that engaging. ...more
terpkristin
Apr 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
I tried, I really did. But I gave up.

This might very well be a good book. I have no idea. I got it on a sale at Audible and after listening to it for about 2 hours, realized I could not take the narrator (who also happens to be the author). Oddly, I seem to have had more issues with female narrators than male. Anyway, that was just a random aside.

Narrator aside, I couldn't get into this. Easily half (if not more) of what I actually listened to was history of or information about Quakers, and why
...more
Katy Noyes
Jan 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Great book.
I chose it based on the subject matter (being a chocolate lover!), and not only did I find the history of the Cadbury family compelling and uplifting, but the social history of the other chocolate dynasties was fascinating too.
I learnt more about the history of chocolate from this book than a trip to Cadbury World (unfortunately!)
Who knew you could read a book where you'd keep feeling Nestlé was the bad guy...

The author was obviously biased and did seen to make her family the heroes
...more
Kim
Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A life long chocolate fan and as an Australian who grew up with the number 1 chocolate being Cadbury I really enjoyed this book. It was fascinating to see where it all started and how it got to where it is today.

I agree with the author that there really is something missing from big companies today. It's too much focused on the dollar.

I know the main company the book focused on was Cadbury but I would have liked to have had more about Mars and the European companies like Lindt. I know there were
...more
Kirsten
Jan 13, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a wonderful history of the great chocolate makers such as Cadbury, Rowntree, Nestle, Hershey's, etc. It is also a wonderful description of how capitalism and industry need not be amoral and insensitive to matters of ethics.

How faithful and religious Quakers made a profit is quite an insight in today's age of everyone out for themselves. Many of our Wall Street titans could benefit.

The author herself is a descendant of the Cadburys. Highly recommend as a good history of chocolate, indus
...more
nathalia borghi
Sep 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting book, nicely written and with a fast pace. The only reason I gave it four stars it because, at times, that pace is interrupted and goes slowly as hell. Maybe because it wasn't much of my interest, but I would've summarised more the part about slavery and cut short some of the business details.
The religious part, however, some thought it was too long or detailed (based on some reviews here), but I think it's what adds so much emotion and humanity into the book and into
...more
Stacy
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Corban Ford
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow, what an interesting read. Chocolate Wars tells the story of the great chocolatier dynasties from the viewpoint of the Cadbury family, one of the oldest contenders in this chocolate struggle. This book was insightful in some places, rather boring in others, and I definitely wouldn't describe any of it as a "Chocolate War" just because all of the companies in this book were usually in different times, were always in different parts of the world, and just weren't directly competing against eac ...more
Tony Fitzpatrick
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I began my business career as IBM's technical rep to Cadbury-Schweppes at Bourneville. This book bought back memories of the chocolate factory, albeit at that time (1982-4) that it was going through its last stages of transition as Cadbury moved further away from the paternalistic Quaker employer to the modern global enterprise that it became. This book, written by a descendant of the original founding fathers, traces the firm's history from the 19th century to the hostile take over by Kraft in ...more
Caroline
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was absolutely fascinating to read. It is not a quick read but it is interesting and very informative about how chocolate was introduced into Europe and the competition to make the best chocolate to drink and then to eat. It was even more about the work ethics of the Quakers in particular the Cadbury family who were big developers in Britain along with Fry and Rowntree in the chocolate industry. They were not about making a huge profit for themselves but about developing a place where peopl ...more
Tatiana
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book as it brings another view of a company which almost toed the line of being termed a social enterprise.

The most surprising aspect of this book was the way it viewed the growth of the largest European and American confectionary company's (Hershey's, Mars, Nestlé, Cadbury's, etc). It outlined some surprising mergers and even more interesting beginnings.

Furthermore, it's a great read for those looking to find an old school blueprint of what to do and what to avoid when creating a business
...more
Damian
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
A nice book that is more about Quackerism and its place in the industrialization of chocolate than anything else.
The pace of the book is strange. It feels the author has gone deep into details on the first 50 years, setting up the story and helping us grow through it. Later, jumping back and forth to cover too much in just a few chapters for the next fifty years. And finishing the last 50 tumultous years in just a few pages. While I enjoyed it all, it feels as if the first part could stand on it
...more
Sleepover137
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting and informative. It's not only the history of Cadbury but also allows for a more general view on the history of chocolate companies. ...more
Marie (UK)
This was an interesting book but lacked some dynamism in the story telling, some parts just felt heavy going. Having worked for the National trust at the home of the owner of Terry's chocolate in York it had some added significance for me. Overall a good read ...more
Indrani Sen
Jul 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, usa, uk, business
The history of chocolate industry is quite fascinating. The book centers on the Cadbury family but covers all the main players in the world. The interplay and the relative up-down was interesting. It was thrilling to encounter the big brands one after another. While the writing is unexciting, maybe the British sense of understatement took over, the story is good. The many benevolent steps taken by George Cadbury was very interesting to note.
Jean
Nov 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I chose to read this book when I noted the author was from the famous British Cadbury Chocolate family. I remember all the fuss in the news in 2009 when the American Kraft foods mounted a hostile takeover of the British Cadbury Chocolate Company. The British government was powerless to stop the international business deal. The British have no laws protecting their own companies for hostile takeovers. Within weeks a company that had taken 186 years to build and which had flourished on the Quaker ...more
Carin
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love chocolate. With a couple of exceptions (key lime pie), I do not understand desserts that don't include chocolate. They seem pointless to me. I have been on a chocolate tasting tour in NYC (and I highly recommend it), and I published a book about chocolate, when I was an acquiring editor. This book was right up my alley. I particularly was interested as this book seemed like it would be the British counterpart to The Emperors of Chocolate about Hershey and Mars, and it was!

The author, Ms.
...more
Dawn
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
When people say, "You never know where a good book will take you," they're usually talking about fiction. However, this Cadbury-centric book about the ins and outs of the world’s major chocolate companies took me to places involving Quakers, the British Labor movement, illegal slavery, and ended up giving me a better understanding of international finance. All that, plus chocolate.

Although I found it absolutely fascinating, I'm not sure who I'd recommend this book to. Possibly to business owners
...more
Lisa
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, history, nonfiction
Cadbury is certainly an interesting company with a rich history. The author, however, spent too much time on that history. It was interesting to get a thorough background of the company, but I think her family link made her more curious than the average person. The bulk of the story was spend on the late 1800s, with a major focus on the history of the Quakerism, and the details of making the early chocolate products, and the early (no longer existing) competitors.

What I really enjoyed about the
...more
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Deborah Cadbury is an award-winning British author and BBC television producer specialising in fundamental issues of science and history, and their effects on modern society.
After graduating from Sussex University in Psychology and Linacre College, Oxford she joined the BBC as a documentary maker and has received numerous international awards, including an Emmy, for her work on the BBC's Horizon s
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“Each year they threw open the grounds of the manor house for a party attended by children from some of the roughest districts of Birmingham. They built a large hall known as The Barn in the park to provide tea and refreshments for up to seven hundred children. George Sr., with his love of nature, believed strongly that every child should have access to playing outside in clean air. Games were organized in the open fields, but the star attraction was the open-air baths. More than fifty children could bathe at any one time, and for the young visitors, most of whom had no access to a bath, it was thrilling. The sun on their backs, the sparkling water always inviting, the boys from the inner cities had no desire to leave and would stay in all day, until they were blue and shivering and cleaner than they had been in years.” 0 likes
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