A sad day for chocolate lovers 299



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Today is the end of an era for Australian chocoholics; the final day of an innocent pleasure that had thrived since the end of World War II.

After enjoying two generations as one of Tasmania’s leading tourist attractions, Cadbury is closing its visitors’ centre.

The once-popular trend of factory floor visits has been suffering a slow, lingering death thanks to food safety laws.

Once upon a time, visitors could enjoy a supervised visit to the Cadbury plant floor and even pluck bars of chocolate off the conveyor belts before they were wrapped. It was a highlight of a family holiday for me in the late 1950s to Tasmania – talk about a kid in a lolly shop and even mummy didn’t mind.

It will surprise many, I know, but I could be a precocious little brat (and, no doubt, I probably ended up sick as a dog because of this wanton indulgence) but all I remember is the sheer pleasure of the event. And, when I think about it, my mummy’s supreme indifference to how much I grabbed off the conveyor belt. She knew, just knew, that it was good for me. Mind you, mummy did insist that I carefully washed my hands before we ventured onto the production floor in case of germs. Whether I was in danger of contracting them or spreading them was never explained.

She was, after all, reassured by the advertising slogan promise of “a glass and a half of full cream dairy milk” in every bar. The slogan had been introduced by the British parent company in 1905 when it launched a new chocolate recipe, which boasted a higher amount of milk than European chocolate.

We all knew that chocolate – especially Cadbury’s chocolate – was really good for you. No kid got fat in those days, however much full cream chocolate they ate – but, then again, we weren’t wolfing down American-inspired fat-laden hamburgers and fries as well.

However, by the late 1980s, we all learned that full cream dairy milk was really, really bad for you. The obesity epidemic had struck and the slogan was adapted to “a glass and a half of goodness” to conform to the politically- and dietary-correct regime. And yet the company maintains, to this day, that the recipe is the same as it was when introduced 110 years ago.

Anyhow, the death of the production floor visits began when everybody had to wear hairnets, shoe covers and white coats. Then, in 2008, even those visits had to be abandoned because it simply wasn’t on to have strangers within arm’s reach of the production line.

So from then until today, all visitors got was a cup of hot chocolate while watching a DVD about the factory’s history and processes, followed by a visit to the on-site retail outlet where you could buy chocolate. Buy bloody chocolate within metres of where it was being made? Wasn’t that nice of them? Kiddies could also have a “photo opportunity” with a life-size Freddo cardboard cut-out and, naturally mummy and daddy had to pay for that as well.

Is it any wonder this “visitors’ centre” is closing down? Sadly, it means the loss of eleven jobs, and follows the loss of eighty jobs last May.

Prime Minister Abbott (remember him?) not only promised $16 million to help make the necessary upgrades at the factory to revive the tours, but he actually delivered the cash. Sadly, the parent company, Mondelez, couldn’t raise its $50 million share of the co-investment deal and it fell through.

And, naturally, the closure of the visitors’ centre has become a political football. All sorts of people at the Federal and State level are calling for action, having discussions and expressing a sorrow that borders on hysterical grief.

But nothing will bring back the good old days.

Food factory visits used to be quite an event when I was a kiddy. I remember going to the Arnott’s biscuit factory in Brisbane – now sadly gone the way of all flesh – and being somewhat appalled by vast vats of purple and pink goo which looked sick-making even to my young and greedy eyes. I’ve never felt the same way about the Iced Vovo since to be honest.

The sheer magic of factory visits for me returned in the late 1970s when I toured the Castlemaine Perkins brewery in Brisbane which, happily, still survives proving that XXXX has a greater staying power than the Iced Vovo. And, I am sure, it is far better for you.

Twenty or so years after my visit to Cadbury’s in Hobart I was a kid in a lolly shop once again and, surprise, surprise, once again I ended up feeling a tiny bit squeamish.

But, unlike chocolate and the Iced Vovo, I have soldiered on with XXXX even if I have to pay for it myself. There are only so many times you can have a free brewery tour every time you get a big, big thirst.

Are you a Cadbury fan? Have you visited the factory? Will you miss it? 

Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. Truthfully have had a wonderful day here and I appreciate all the laughs I have had and I don’t want anything to end it now, but the reason Cadbury is in trouble is because so many have stopped buying their chocolates because they have Halal on the label. They laid off 80 workers and people still stopped buying, these people are Australian’s who lost their jobs.I have since started buying the odd chocolate to try to support them. I am not a big chocolate eater

    19 REPLY
    • yes you are Leighanne Cunnigton, you are a rude person, everything I have said is easy accessible on the net..google it..stop showing your ignorance

    • Uncertified Palm oil is the BIG issue. Halal only ensures bigger sales and exports.

      1 REPLY
      • Since it changed hands Cadbury has suffered the triple whammy in the name of profitability. Chinese food, halal and palm oil. Cadburys axis of evil.

    • I do agree Ree they should get rid of the palm oil, I am not happy with that either but the job losses worry me

    • Luv my little treat so will continue to support Cadbury and whatever other bloody chocolate I fancy eating

    • No its not Ree…def Halal Certification…when the Government gave them the handout…OUR TAX DOLLARS…they were told it is a one off unless they lose the certification

    • I will never tell anyone what to buy, your money your choice, I can only tell you how I feel and why, Tassie is small and they have so little jobs down there, they can’t afford to lose any.

    • Buy Lindt..tastes better and they’ve just opened a big new factory in NSW and a shop in Adelaide, creating jobs for Aussies. There are plenty of other companies we can support that are actually Aussie owned and produced..jobs for Aussies and the profits stay here in this country. While I feel for those who have lost their jobs, blame Cadbury. They turned their backs on their loyal customers and their product is not the high standard it used to be, so if people stop buying their product it’s up to them to fix the problem, not try and bully people into buying a product they don’t actually like any more.

    • Leighanne Cunnington, just because you don’t agree, no need for rudeness. I live in Tassie and it is a sad situation when Cadbury workers are laid off. I believe it is at least in part because of the halal certification and the fact that the government did the wrong thing by them. Rubbish? Maybe but I have the right, just as Libbi did, to say so.

    • Jennifer Bauchler I am 6th generation Australian and the one thing I love about this country is that Australian’s eat whatever they want

    • USE TO LIKE.RED TULIP DARK CHOC. or Darrel Lea.But both became too expwnsive Don’t like Cadbury much. JusT a CHOC

  2. Sad to see people loose their jobs broken promises from govt, I work in tourism sector and many guests who stay in Hobart love going to Cadbury be interested qhy govt couldn’t support a tourist icon in hobart

    2 REPLY
  3. Cadbury has halal accreditation. So it is off my Christmas lists. wonder what it’s Puritan Christian founders would think of that.

    6 REPLY
    • Such ignorance, must be an old age thing. Make sure you don’t ever buy any NZ or Aussie lamb either Bev, it is also halal.

      1 REPLY
      • Doug Thompson I hope you are aware that most Australian meats are halal also i.e lamb beef chicken etc

    • Everyone has a right to their opinion Doug, don’t call her ignorant. Halal accreditation is a big SCAM and many of us will not support it. As for lamb and other meats, groceries etc, those of us who hate to be scammed buy it elsewhere or change brand.

    • Lol a gathering of the ignorant club. Halal isn’t a ‘scam’ as such, it is exactly the same as kosher. I guess because it is based on a religion, then sure, ok, it is based on a scam. I’m happy for people to believe in imaginary friends, if that’s what they need to get through life. But let me tell you one imaginary friend is no better that the next.

  4. I won’t buy Cadbury Dairy Milk any more, simply because it isn’t the chocolate they used to make, hate the taste and texture now. Bring back a glass and a half of full cream milk instead of whatever it is they put in it now.

    4 REPLY
  5. Could it be that people have stopped buying the product .it is fatty ,tasteless and far to overpriced !Gone are the days of the beautiful treat made with pure products .now its cheap fat and fillers and fat cats laughing all the way to the bank because we are paying for obesity causing chemicals

    1 REPLY
  6. I don’t like Cadbury’s any more, its not as nice since they mucked around with the recipe, much too sweet and not as chocolatey. Much prefer Whittakers now.

    1 REPLY
    • agree Glenis much prefer Whittakers now and I notice Cadbury not as yummy as it once was, I used to look forward to treating myself to a block but not now.

  7. Used to love dairy milk chocolate melting on your tongue. It’s not the same now so don’t touch it even darryl lea is not the same

    6 REPLY
  8. So sad! Coca Cola used to do the same thing for school excursions at their Moorabbin factory when I was a kid.

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