Yesterday, some friends and I finally went to Cadbury World - the original Cadbury Chocolate Factory! After almost four months of living in the next village over (Harborne borders on Bournville), I decided it was time to spend the 13 pounds (~$29!!!) to experience the world's first chocolate makers.
Here in Birmingham, The Cadbury Brothers experimented in creating the best tasting and highest quality chocolate possible and succeeded in 1904. The key was adding a glass and a half of milk!
They built the existing factory outside of the dirty city, and named the area Bourneville. The Cadbury family valued their workers so much that they built houses, churches, and schools - a whole town - for them, and were one of the first companies to give their workers benefits, sick days, and fair pay!
The Cadbury Factory instantly reminds me of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, and I wonder if there are any Oumpa-Lumpas inside... The smell of chocolate hangs thick and sweet in the air as we head inside and line up for tickets.
I have also heard rumors of free chocolate from the locals I have asked. Mmmm...Free Chocolate! Did I get any? Well, by the time I left, my teeth and tongue hurt, I was high with sugar, and my pockets were heavy with 5 bars of chocolate I didn't pay for!
On the tour, my friends and I (above) will witness the story of where chocolate stated (Aztec Civilization) and follow its path through the Spanish Empire, through Victorian Europe, and finally to Birmingham and the Cadbury brothers - all through fabulous interactive displays.
We watch as chocolate is actually made in the factory, and robotically packed in the packing plant. The smell of chocolate seeps through every pore of your body and clothes, and I will return home reeking of the sweet stuff. A bit like the Friday night cigarette stink from the pub.
Chocolate was first used as a drink for the wealthy, famous for its healing properties! We were given a cup of melted milk chocolate and I began to feel better right away. Cadbury World is a bit like Disney Land, except everyone is on a huge sugar high!
I meet the man himself - George Cadbury - and check my glasses as well... Soon, we are off on a Disney-esk slow car ride through Cadbury Land - inhabited by ...um... chocolate beans.
Here are chocolate beans in a house. The whole ride (like It's a Small World, but with chocolate-bean-people) was SO surreal, I felt like I had passed out with the chocolate smell and the sugar high, and dreaming....***
***...hello, Mr. Bean Man...you're round and brown! ...cool green grass though....***
***...hello Sultry Bunny...what are you doing here....advertising mascot?....oh....***
***Whew. The ride ends and I wake from my dream. We then pass through the "Happiness Room" where you can try the "special Cadbury dance floor" Hun?... Then the advertising room, which shows TV ads from the 50's to the 2000's.
The tour -not surprizingly- ends in the huge gift shop, which sells every type of Cadbury's chocolate you could ever want for cheaper then the shops - including a 5 kg bar of Dairy Milk! Mmmm... I leave with 12 cream eggs, a large Dairy Milk bar, and my dignity!
Certainly not worth the 13 pounds, but if you subtract the free chocolate and the complementary psychedelic experience, then it would come to something a bit more affordable.
I leave Cadbury World feeling a bit sick. I really enjoyed myself, but the smell of concentrated chocolate for 4 hours really got to my head. On the way out, I notice this sign:
Perhaps it isn't the chocolate smell at all!