Cadbury Drinking Chocolate

Drinking chocolate. It seems so simple - but it actually took all sorts of tinkering to come up with the drinking chocolate we know and love today…

Because there was so much cocoa butter in the cocoa - a whopping 50% or more - manufacturers at the time had to add things to it, like potato flour and sago (a type of starch), to try and absorb the fat and mask the taste. Some ruthless manufacturers added brick dust and even poisonous red lead to their products.

So, how did the Cadbury family get involved in chocolate? John Cadbury opened a grocer’s shop in Bull Street, Birmingham in 1824. He sold tea and coffee, but experimented with cocoa and drinking chocolate too. It really was a hands-on business, breaking up the cocoa beans with a pestle and mortar and adding common contemporary ingredients such as treacle and starches.

By 1831, John Cadbury’s cocoa and drinking chocolate was getting more and more popular. So he rented a small factory in Crooked Lane not far from his shop and became a “manufacturer of drinking chocolate and cocoa”. It was the start of Cadbury as we know it today.

“A price list from 1842 shows that John Cadbury sold eleven sorts of cocoa, and sixteen different lines of drinking chocolate - some as a pressed block, some as a powder.”

Customers would scrape a little off the block and mix it with hot milk or water. John Cadbury introduced a solid chocolate in 1849 - but it wouldn’t have been like the chocolate we know today!

Then something happened which was to change Cadbury forever. In 1866 John’s son George brought back a cocoa press from Holland. It had been made by Coenradd Johannes van Houten, a manufacturer who’d been looking for a way of reducing cocoa’s high fat content - and his van Houten press did just that.

With some of the cocoa butter removed, suddenly cocoa and drinking chocolate was much tastier. Flour was no longer needed, and Cadbury launched a new product ‘Cocoa Essence’, advertised as ‘Absolutely pure, therefore Best’.

But what about the cocoa butter left over? Surely there must be something you could do with it…
Next: Chocolate Discovery - History of Chocolate Bars