Cadbury has sold chocolate products for 200 years. It was one of the first chocolate companies to produce a genuinely creamy chocolate bar. Ever since, it has reigned as the number one selling chocolate brand in the UK. Today, Cadbury is a billion-dollar corporation whose distinctive purple-clad candies appear in stores around the world.
How Cadbury Got Its Start
The history of Cadbury is closely entwined with the history of chocolate as a culinary ingredient. In 1824, John Cadbury opened a grocery store in Birmingham in the UK. Besides the usual groceries, he sold tea, coffee, powdered cocoa and drinking chocolate.
At the time, there was no such thing as the chocolate bar as we know it today. The earliest version was a coarse, bitter pastille introduced in the late 1850s. Swiss chocolate makers, however, were already experimenting with recipes that blended milk with chocolate to produce a creamy bar.
Cadbury’s store was a success, and he quickly expanded. He moved into a larger building and purchased a nearby warehouse. He began focusing on chocolate and cocoa products, which were his top-selling items.
On the Path To Perfect Chocolate
In 1897, Cadbury introduced the first Cadbury milk chocolate bar. It was not a commercial success, however, as it was rough in texture and not very sweet.
In the nineteenth century, the Swiss were way ahead of the game in chocolate production. In 1875, they discovered that adding condensed milk instead of powdered milk gave chocolate a creamy, sweet flavor. In 1879, Swiss chocolatier Rudolph Lindt invented a technique called “conching” that made chocolate smooth. Swiss chocolate became the best-selling chocolate in the UK and the world.
Introducing the Dairy Milk
At this time, Cadbury’s sons Richard and George were running the company. They decided they would compete directly with the Swiss to create a comparable bar. They took a gamble by investing an enormous amount of money in a cocoa processing machine.
It took years, but they finally created a delicious bar by adding more milk than any other chocolate bar had used. They called it Dairy Milk to differentiate it from other bars.
They introduced the new bar in 1904. By 1907, Cadbury Dairy Milk was Cadbury’s most popular product. In 1920, it became the top-selling brand of chocolate in the UK. It has held that position ever since.
The successes kept coming. In 1928, the company introduced the Fruit & Nut bar. The Cadburys advertised their chocolates by claiming there was a “glass and a half of milk” in every bar. In 1993, they produced Whole Nut.
In 1998, the company repackaged Dairy Milk with the well-known purple packaging it still uses today.
Cadbury’s Early Logos
In 1905, John’s grandson William Cadbury commissioned the first Cadbury logo. The designer was French artist Georges Auriol.
Auriol created a stylized cocoa tree interwoven with the Cadbury name. The company registered the design in 1911 and used it on boxes, catalogs and advertisements. The company continued to use this design until well after the Second World War. In 1952, the company created a streamlined version of the logo.
Check out our guide on trademarking a logo.
A Redesign After 50 Years
Cadbury has made only a few changes since then. In 2020, Cadbury hired the design company Bulletproof to create a new logo. The redesign is ongoing, and the company plans to introduce it in Australia in 2020 and the UK in 2021.
Cadbury will also reintroduce the Milk Chocolate Marble flavor. The company pulled that flavor eight years ago, and customers have been clamoring to get it back.
“The new elevated packaging includes a redrawn word mark, new iconography and typography, making the look and feel more natural, authentic and high quality,” a company spokesperson told an Australian news service.
One thing that won’t change is Cadbury’s iconic purple color. Registered in 1995, Cadbury Purple is a distinctive shade that has graced the company’s labels and advertising for 200 years. John Cadbury first used it in his packaging as a tribute to Queen Victoria.
It’s also a color that has been at the center of many heated legal battles for the chocolate maker. Most of those fights have been with its chief competitor, Nestle Corp., another global manufacturer of chocolate products.
In 2012, the UK High Court ruled that Cadbury could get trademark protection for its purple shade, which the law identifies as Pantone 2685C. The decision allowed Cadbury the exclusive right to use that shade in packaging for its chocolate products. It also allowed Cadbury to prevent Nestle from using a similar shade for its chocolate products.
In its ruling, the Court said people typically remember colors and packaging better than they remember names. The court concluded it wasn’t fair to let Nestle use a color the public associates closely with another brand.
In 2013, however, an appeals court overturned the decision. Nestle argued successfully that it had two well-established products that used purple packaging. The court agreed with Nestle.
A Bad Break Over KitKat
Nestle also beat Cadbury in a 2014 lawsuit over its use of a four-pronged shape for the KitKat chocolate bar.
In 2019, the long-running legal battle ended when a court again ruled against Cadbury’s exclusive use of the purple color. Here, the court concluded that Cadbury’s definition of its protected use was too vague. Because of this ruling, any brand can now use Cadbury purple on its packaging. Cadbury said it would not pursue the question legally, but would continue taking steps to protect its packaging.
Still the Reigning Favorite
Cadbury’s chocolate bars have been around a long time. Cadbury is still the top-selling chocolate maker in the UK and among the top 10 in the world. Whether those bars will still appear in their familiar purple packaging is a question only time and the courts will answer.