Thursday, 17 September 2009

Chocolate Wars: Hershey's v. Cadbury's

When it comes to chocolate, Chumley has never minced words. His years in the States were a chocolate famine, full of inferior, lecithin-laden excuses for the real thing. Not to say this would stop him from consuming the occasional Twix. But it just wasn't the same.

This cultural chocolate divide became clear when he'd get an occasional Hershey's miniature in a goodie bag from some road race. Untrue to form, he'd turn up his nose. "What's wrong with Hershey's?" I asked naively, wondering how anyone could impune the one and only chocolate I had much experience with. "It tastes like earwax," he replied matter-of-factly. "Earwax!" I was horrified. I had accidentally licked the end of a used Q-tip (cotton bud) once, and I knew first hand Hershey's and earwax did not share a common chemical structure. I chalked up his contrariness to his love of being contrary, but he didn't cave one bit in future chocolate conversations. "Earwax!" he proclaimed, shoving any pure Hershey's chocolate product toward me. I was not altogether upset by this arrangement. The only acceptable source of affordable chocolate was Cadbury. Cadbury or bust.

Bearing this in mind, I raided a sale bin at the local grocery that happened to have Cadbury on sale and proudly presented him with a Dairy Milk. He didn't gush like I expected him to. He didn't throw his arms around me and pronounce me his chocolate savior. Instead, he flipped over the Dairy Milk label and pointed to the fine print. "It's made by Hershey's, you know." Or, did he mean Satan? "It still has earwax overtones." I was crushed. I got a paltry pat on the head, but he did manage to consume half the bar himself.

Was it possible that my chocolate-tasting palate was just that remarkably unrefined?

In the days when a Costco World Market lurked near our U.S. base, Chumley would light up with excitement. They carried an array of imported Cadbury favorites. "Curly-Wurly!" he'd exclaim. "Double Decker! Mmmmm..." he'd chant softly, tossing a few into our basket.

It was a sad day when our World Market packed it in, but I thought I had an answer. A small Indian grocery had set up shop down the street. They sold Cadbury's Dairy Milk and its relatives. We were in business. I bought him a sample and yet again, presented it with pride. When I revealed where it had been purchased, his heart sunk. I got nervous. He flipped over the wrapper and tut-tutted knowingly. "What?" I asked. "This was made in New Delhi," he said as he pointed to the wrapper. "It tastes a bit like..." "Earwax?" I guessed.

Now that we live in England, happiness in the chocolate department is restored. There is a mind boggling array of chocolate bars that I've never tried or heard of before, which can be great fun getting to know. There is a difference in the amount of emulsifier in Hershey's chocolate versus British-made Cadbury's. Hershey's is the brand Americans grow up on. To turn a blind tastebud feels traitor-esque. It's why people from Scotland cling to their haggis, I suppose, but I won't be eating anything out of a sheep's stomach unless there's a handgun firmly lodged against my temple. How American.

1 comment:

chris said...

I do have to side with him on the side of Cadbury vs Hershey but i fear only for the same reasons as he. I grew up on Cadbury and when I went to the states it simply was not the same though I did find some staples I choose not to live without. Mountain Dew, which seems to have been stripped from the shelves here, at least where i live and Bawls. The drink of gamers everywhere. Peppermint altoids too. All courtesy of i don't know what i would do without that place.

I know his pain.