UK Sweets Vs US Candy
Britannia doesn’t rule chocolate anymore, so how can it hope to rule the waves? Cadbury is no more – swallowed up by meat-making, Kool Aid-producing, fake cheese-harbouring, all-American giant Kraft. We’ve always had a different way of treating our sugary, milky treats over here, so now, before Dairy Milks are turned in to Awesome! Bars, let’s look at how things are done sweet-wise on either side of the pond and decide who is better at it.
DAIRY MILK (UK)
Dairy Milk advertising always pounded home the “milk” part of the product (and I suppose the “dairy”, because milk is dairy). Early adverts assured the prospective buyer that the bar was “rich in cream”. Nowadays, this strategy would probably be as welcome as branding “full of lard and fried dicks” all over a packet of butter. Dairy Milk was brought crashing into the brave new meme world like Charlton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes with the gorilla playing “In the Air Tonight” in the adverts. Lots of people watched it on YouTube. Lots of people mashed it up. It wasn’t a nice glass and a half of milk though, was it? It didn’t help our brave farmers and their milk. Who did it help? Phil Collins.
In the early days, when John Cadbury was still an alcohol-hating, temperance-loving Quaker, the paper packaging of his chocolate often featured elaborate drawings of elves mixing up their heady concoctions, or invisible hands elegantly pouring milk into glasses. (Seriously, if they were so obsessed with milk, why didn’t they just make milk? It’s very popular, you’d probably make some cash.) In the end, this gave way to the classic blue and white covering, which then allowed Cadbury to sneakily reduce the amount of chocolate in their bars without it being noticed, except by this kiwi guy (and the world).
Sweet, milky (natch), not legally chocolate. If you grew up on this sea-blasted isle, the taste of Dairy Milk will evoke memories not even your mother’s breast milk could conjure up. Both involve milk, though, so I suppose that’s the key.
Apart from the aforementioned gorilla, the whole seduction-as-a-way-of-selling-chocolate thing was taken to a strange, slutty Princess-Di-meets-Watership Down place with the introduction of the Caramel Bunny to sell Cadbury’s Caramel, an offshoot of Dairy Milk. There was even a version in which the bunny had a sultry West Country burr, which I guess is appropriate if you live in a wood and stuff. Still, she never did any surfing. Or played in Reef.
When it comes to marketing chocolate, Britishers go in for the whole “seductive” thing more than the Americans. Hershey’s Kissables are all about the kind of sanitised kiss you might give your 12-year-old girlfriend if she was made of pink fur. When they’re not doing that, they’re nicking British artists (Nick Park, Modern English) to create some kind of hippie Garden State nightmare, in chocolate. The emphasis is on pleasing children and building the kind of happy, contented families that Hitler feverishly dreamed would inhabit his perfect Fatherland.
Hershey’s goes in for the kind of muted brown packaging that screams “human faeces”.
Chocolate in the U.S. only has to contain 10 percent cocoa solids to be classified “chocolate” (Dairy Milk is 20 percent, which still doesn’t make it cool in Europe). This might account for the fact that Hershey’s chocolate tastes like meat. The weird, savoury human taste complimented by the shit-coloured packaging makes the whole Hershey’s range an all-round winner.
CADBURY’S FLAKE (UK)
The Flake adverts were all about inspiring you to ravage an 18th century gypsy girl in the back of a cart while she ate some kind of mysteriously wrapped sweet from the future. Either that or you’d be saving some early 90s girl from drowning with her chocolate and then going on to have “crumbly, flakey” sex with her.
It’s that classic devil-may-care yellow packaging that just screams out “penetrative sex”.
If you could ignore the fact that “melt-in-the-mouth” basically means “crumble down your trousers”, then you were on to a good thing with Flake. It tasted surprisingly like having a hot, overflowing bath while being filmed.
When Americans go in for the sexy thing, it ends up being bizarre and kind of racist. Check out this recent advert for Kraft’s Mikado chocolate bar. Oh, Japanese people, they’re so repressed! Look how he’s all disapproving. But she’d never dream of doing anything like that on purpose! It’s their samurai culture. And those nuclear bombs. It takes the naughtiness right out of a people. That said, Cadbury’s went in for a hilarious piece of neo-colonialism with their recent Ghanaian advert. Is that great huge totem meant to be some kind of local god? It looks more like the Craig David mask from Bo Selecta. There also seems to be this underlying assumption that the “native people” of Africa think that chocolate is “magic” and imbued with some kind of supernatural power. But I guess the advertisers took that corporate trip to Accra, so I’m sure they know better than me (Apartheid-loving chocolate perverts).
Some kind of Japanese chopstick horror show.
Like being punched in the face by Gilbert & Sullivan.
CADBURY’S MILK TRAY (UK)
Uber-British. With their “all because the lady loves Milk Tray" tagline, a generation of hopeful romantics was encouraged to think of themselves as James Bond and go out and buy their “lady” Milk Tray. Of course, walking to the shop was about as heroic as they were ever going to get, and their “lady” was really just a “bird”.
A tray. A classy tray. Not a TV-dinner tray.
The name says it all: these things really were just trays of milk-based chocolates. No messing around.
Generally, American sweet makers stay away from the adults and go in and hit the kids hard. If you talk at them persistently enough, and use a friendly face, they will keep fucking with their parents until they get the Jell-O pudding they want. But which friendly face? These guys hit gold with incomprehensible jumper-wearing national institution Bill Cosby.
In terms of celebrity endorsements, try comparing this to the Elton John adverts Cadbury’s put out. Now that’s fashion, Cosby! An American company would never dream of getting a gay to sell children sweets (homophobic chocolate perverts).
Lurid and unnatural.
Like a confederate salad.
SNICKERS/MARATHON (U.S./ UK)
Peanuts used to be thought of as odd, unnatural plants by the English, so old Marathon bar adverts had to talk about peanuts as if they were kind of a strange thing.
The assertion of British identity in adverts was also backed up in the naming and packaging of products. Yes, Snickers (which was the name of the Mars company’s favourite horse) used to be known as Marathon in Britain. Marathon bars actually became far more popular after they were renamed Snickers. Still, this being Britain, there’s obviously a fucking stupid campaign to “bring back Marathon”. Basically, it seems to be an attempt by the guy to publicise his shitty podcast, although it’s presented as a misty-eyed celebration of being British (apparently Marathon is “part of our culture”). Listen mate, it’s the same fucking chocolate bar, alright?
KRAFT’S MILKA (U.S.)
Hiding the fact that the chocolate is made by an American company by making the ads as stereotypically Swiss-German as possible.
Light blue, to remind you of milk; featuring mountains, to remind you of Switzerland; covered in cows, to remind you of milk again. Milk.
Like being on a French exchange.
Um, you can't judge this because these are not proper catagories. I guess the people who lose are all the people who'll get sacked over at the Cadbury's factory.