Hershey’s Strikes a Blow Against the Happiness of British Chocoholics
In the past month, Hershey’s reached a settlement with Let’s Buy British Imports (L.B.B.), an importer of British products, to stop the importation of all Cadbury made outside of the United States. Hershey’s has also gotten the company to agree to end the importation of KitKats made in Britain, Toffee Crisps, which has packaging that Hershey’s claims too closely resembles Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Maltesers, and Yorkie chocolate bars, which allegedly infringe on the York Peppermint Patty. Hershey’s, which has a licensing agreement with Cadbury UK to make and sell Cadbury chocolate bars and Creme Eggs in the United States, claims that they are trying to “protect its trademark rights” and “prevent consumers from being confused or misled when they see a product name or product package that is confusingly similar to a Hershey name or trade dress.”
The Cadbury chocolate made by Hershey’s in the United States is made with a different recipe, which includes sugar as its first ingredient (unlike British Cadbury, which has milk as its first ingredient) and emulsifiers like polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) and soy lecithin, which reduce the viscosity of chocolate and lengthen its shelf life. Because of the different recipes, British ex-pats in the United States and American fans of British Cadbury are outraged by Hershey’s actions and British specialty stores are worried that they will be forced to close due to the loss of revenue from British Cadbury. Famed New York City restaurant Tea & Sympathy took to Facebook to inform its customers that they would no longer be able to sell “the real Cadbury chocolate from England,” because of “legal action by the so called chocolate maker Hersheys.” Tea & Sympathy was very clear that they would never sell the Hershey’s-made Cadbury in its store, saying: “[W]e can’t in good conscience sell you such awful chocolate when we have made our reputation on selling you the yummy real English stuff.” They recommended that their customers voice their opinions to CEO of Hershey’s John Bilberry. Another shop owner that sells British goods told the New York Times that she believes that she would go out of business soon because Cadbury is “about half of [her] business.” Even famed political action committee MoveOn.org has started a petition, which currently sits at 34,373 signatures, to support importers like L.B.B.. Hershey’s actions have also faced scrutiny on the op-ed pages of major newspapers, such as The Wall Street Journal. Ralph Gardner, Jr., writing for The Wall Street Journal, compared the loss of his beloved Cadbury to “a Soviet-era Iron Curtain falling over [his] freedom of choice.” He believes that Hershey’s sought to ban the importation of British Cadbury because it had “become increasingly available in the U.S. in recent years,” and shoppers had “become spoiled” because they realized there was “no comparison between” British Cadbury and American Cadbury.
While American fans of British Cadbury will not be able to buy the chocolate in stores that used British-product importers like L.B.B., they can still buy their favorites chocolates on Amazon, though this will come at a premium. Buying a box of seventeen Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars from Canadian Amazon will cost Americans $33.17.