Chocolate War Leaves US Addicts Wanting

Monday, February 16th 2015, 2:43 pm
By: News 9

For more than 30 years, importers of British goods brought English Cadbury chocolate into the United States. Now, as a lawsuit between the American chocolate behemoth, Hershey, and the British importers draws to a close, fans of milky English bars of chocolate are anticipating a permanent dry spell, reports CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.

Luscious, tempting, sinful: chocolate is addictive. There's a reason why the world equates chocolate with love.

Joel Allegretti comes to Myers of Keswick in Manhattan's West Village for his fix.

"English Cadbury is better than American Cadbury," Allegretti said. "I have said that for years."

London expat Matthew James Thomas seemed to agree.

"American chocolate is just not quite there yet," Thomas said.

But with a ban on British milk chocolate looming near-panic is setting in, one couple is laying their hands on all the Cadbury imports they can before it takes effect.

Nicky Perry and her husband Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett own Tea and Sympathy, an English grocery and tea shop in New York City.

"This is a global world now," Perry said. "You can't turn around to us and say all of a sudden we can't have bars of chocolate."

Hershey has owned the rights to make Cadbury in the U.S. for nearly 30 years, and has largely ignored specialty shops selling the British version. But after noticing those stores were taking an increasing bite of the company's $7 billion business, Hershey's sued to stop all imports into the U.S.

"I really don't understand it, because with all that's going on is it really necessary to be banning chocolate?" customer Andie Sablowsky said.

Perry and Kavanagh-Dowsett said they'd love to have cameras in their shop when they get arrested for selling chocolate.

"They lead me off for, you know, selling chocolate. This is ridiculous," Perry said.

It's not so ridiculous to Hershey's senior director of product development, Jim St. John, who said the recipes are almost identical.

"I would say that the product sold in the United States is extremely similar to the product sold in England and consumers would be delighted by either," he said.

Not so, say lovers of the British-made Cadbury. They point to the ingredients to make their argument. British Cadbury defines milk chocolate as milk, sugar and cocoa butter, and the American version as sugar, milk, then chocolate. Small differences, perhaps, but they leave the British palate unsatisfied.

Food writer and chocolate aficionado Bill Buford put this claim to the test. He said the English Cadbury tastes of milk.

"You can imagine this warmed up in a cup on a cold morning in the mountains, this is like the bar equivalent of a steamy cup of hot chocolate," Buford said.

While he said the American-made one tasted different, the battle has nothing to do with which is better.

"It's not only personal preference but there's also a very sentimental idea, which is that if you grow up with this, this is England made," Buford said.

Therein lies the issue. While the case may be playing itself out in a Yankee court, in the end, what's at stake may really be more a matter of hearts and minds.

"It's kind of like a nationalistic food. It's hot dogs on the 4th of July," Buford said.

For some, it's the power of chocolate that remains important.

"There's all sorts of reports you can read and studies where they say that chocolate triggers something in the human mind and it releases a certain level of endorphins and it's sense, memory," Kavanagh-Dowsett said.

"I think he's trying to tell you that chocolate's orgasmic, which it is," Perry added.

The final settlement in the Hershey's lawsuit will be reached in several weeks. The main importers of British Cadbury chocolate will pay a fine and be banned from bringing over chocolate.

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