20 Nov
The Story of Cadbury Dairy Milk

For almost 120 years, Cadbury Dairy Milk has stood as an enduring symbol of indulgence and sweetness, captivating the taste buds of chocolate enthusiasts worldwide. It's currently the No.1 best-selling chocolate bar in Great Britain, and for good reason. 

At the heart of Dairy Milk's allure is its velvety smoothness, a result of the perfect balance struck between high-quality cocoa and rich, creamy milk. The chocolate undergoes a meticulous process that involves conching, refining, and blending, ensuring a melt-in-your-mouth experience with every bite.

Famously made with "a glass and a half of fresh milk", each bar is a confectionery masterpiece, and today, around 350 million Cadbury Dairy Milk bars are consumed every year.

Did you know that each square contains 25 calories, and a 45g bar contains 240 calories? Well, you do now! 

So let's now take a look back at the fascinating story of Cadbury Dairy Milk...

Cadbury's Dairy Milk advert from 1953

This advert is from the 1950s

Cocoa, milk and magic: the birth of Dairy Milk

Cadbury, the renowned British chocolatier, introduced Dairy Milk in 1905, forever changing the landscape of chocolate. The bar was the invention of George Cadbury Jr, the second son of George Cadbury, who crafted the chocolate bar with a higher proportion of milk compared to its counterparts. 

Dairy Milk distinguished itself with a creamier and smoother texture, setting a new standard for chocolate indulgence. By 1914, it would become the company's best-selling product. 

In its early stages of development, the bar went through several name changes, including 'Highland Milk', 'Jersey' and 'Dairy Maid'.

Discrepancies exist in accounts detailing the origin of the name. Some suggest that the name change occurred based on the advice of a shopkeeper in Plymouth. However, Cadbury asserts that the Dairy Milk name was proposed by a customer's daughter

While the classic Dairy Milk bar remains a fan favourite, Cadbury has expanded its repertoire to cater to diverse tastes. In 1926, Fruit and Nut joined the Dairy Milk line-up, followed closely by Whole Nut in 1930. At that juncture, Cadbury's had solidified its standing as the leading chocolate brand in the United Kingdom. 

In 1928, Cadbury introduced its now iconic "glass and a half" slogan and graphic logo.

Cadbury's Dairy Milk vending bar from the 1970s

This vending bar is from the 1970s

The year Dairy Milk disappeared from UK stores

In the midst of World War II, the United Kingdom implemented rationing, and the availability of raw materials became scarce. In 1941, Cadbury Dairy Milk disappeared from store shelves as the government prohibited manufacturers from using fresh milk. Taking its place, was inferior ration chocolate, made with dried skimmed milk.

1980s Ad campaigns

In the UK, an amusing TV advert aired (see above) that featured the That's Life presenter Gavin Campbell, playing the role of David Thompson. He rescues a cat from a tree for his daughter, and the ad ends with the tag line "have you earned your bar today?". Amusingly, the cat finds its way back up the tree again! The ad was narrated by The Likely Lads actor, Rodney Bewes.

During the 1980s, Cadbury decided to try and capture a larger slice of the Irish market.

In 1982, Cadbury ran an ad campaign in Ireland using the tag line "It's what chocolate is all about". A TV advert featured a rather forgettable song that sounded like it was created for a children's TV show. 

The Cadbury Dairy Milk Irish ads featured the jingle "The Perfect Word For Chocolate" from 1986 to 1988. Subsequently, spanning the years 1989 to 1996, the widely recognised advertisement showcased the popular jingle "The Choice Is Yours The Taste Is Cadbury," accompanied by the slogan "Mysteries of Love."

Worms found in Dairy Milk in India

In 2003, it was widely reported that worms had been found creeping out of Dairy Milk bars in India, leading to a slump in sales. However, a series of new advertising campaigns helped Cadbury to a quickly regain customer confidence.

The iconic drumming gorilla TV advert (2007)

In what is arguably one of the best and most iconic TV adverts ever produced, Cadbury pulled a master-stroke in 2007 by featuring a gorilla drumming to Phil Collins classic 80s hit "In The Air Tonight", which itself features one of the most iconic and melodramatic drum breaks of all time.

The advert, produced by Glass And A Half Full Productions, was first shown during the final of the reality TV show Big Brother, and the Phil Collins song re-entered the UK singles chart at No.42 on 9th Sept 2007, peaking at No.14 on 14th October. The song originally reached No.2 in 1981.

In 2008, a second version of the advert aired during the Big Brother Final, this time using Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart". 

Purple wrapper trademark dispute (2012)

Instantly recognisable by its iconic purple packaging, Cadbury's Dairy Milk has become a visual feast for chocolate lovers. The distinctive foil and paper wrapper, adorned with the brand's logo and iconic glass and a half graphic, evoke a sense of nostalgia and anticipation, signalling the delight within. 

In 2012, Cadbury emerged victorious in a trademark dispute in the United Kingdom over the distinct purple colour featured on its chocolate bar wrappers, known as Pantone 2685C. This colour, initially introduced in 1914 as a homage to Queen Victoria, held significant historical significance for the brand. However, in October 2013, an appeal by Nestlé proved successful in challenging Cadbury's exclusive claim to the colour. See Cadbury loses legal fight over use of colour purple

Controversial rounded corners introduced in 2012

Cadbury gave the sharp-angled corners of its Dairy Milk bars a smooth facelift in 2012, also craftily shaving 4g off each serving without reducing the price. This left some fans of the bar rather disgruntled, with some claiming that the bar tasted "sweeter". However, Cadbury insisted that the recipe had remained unchanged.

Cadbury Dairy Milk 850g bar from 2023, with and without card sleeve

Dairy Milk today

After well over a century of production, Cadbury's Dairy Milk maintains its unparalleled popularity, securing its position as the best-selling chocolate bar in the UK of 2023, beating its biggest rival Mars Galaxy, which is in third position.

Today, there are numerous different chocolate products that are produce under the Dairy Milk banner, including Whole Nut, Fruit & Nut, Orange, Mint, Caramel, Oreo, Daim, Buttons, Crunchie Bits, Marvellous Creations and Salted Caramel.

According to Statistica, in 2020, almost 24 million people ate a Dairy Milk bar, solidifying its position as Cadbury's best-selling chocolate bar.

In November 2023, Cadbury announced that Dairy Milk Peanut Caramel Crisp had been discontinued. Cadbury's 'best chocolate bar ever' is axed 

I hope you enjoyed reading the story of Cadbury Dairy Milk. You may also like The Cadbury Chocolate Machine - can you still buy them?

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