Sunday, 22 July 2012

Chocolate - an Intercultural Personal History

The first chocolate brand I remember eating was Verkade. We were living in Holland at the time, and everybody was chocolate mad.Verkade chocolate was okay, if a bit tooth-breakerish.Verkade is one of the oldest Dutch manufacturing companies, and was instrumental in the home-grown advertising industry - but in 1990 got taken over first by United Biscuits and then by Private Equity Blackstone -with predictable results for the quality of the product.

We were in Holland, but we were also part of a NATO HQ, and therefore our daily shopping was done in the NAAFI store where I encountered my second chocolate experience: Cadbury's Milk Tray. It tasted quite good - I particularly liked the ones with some orangey foam in them, but I also became aware for the first time in my life that I was eating something totally artificial: The one with rose-flavoured jelly in it (much later in my life when living in England, I would re-discover this in a different guise, namely as Fry's Turkish Delight bars!) didn't taste at all what I was used to eating as a child. It tasted foreign, and slightly - well, wrong. Rose-flavour wasn't a concept I'd grown up with. But interesting.( I think threre was also one with lime flavour which reminded me of cleaning fluid, also from the NAAFI). Much more to my taste was a bar called Nuts (which we pronounced in the Dutch fashion "Nüts", as nobody suspected the name actually had a meaning).

Cadbury's of course, was taken over by Kraft Foods in 2010, and Milk Tray still exists, but apparently has gone downhill with all the interesting flavours taken out, and just caramelly ones in the box. Fry's doesn't exist anymore, but Turkish Delight is still produced (albeit in Poland). And "Nuts" is okay, still manufactured by Swiss multinational Nestlé.

After we moved to Germany, my chcolate brands became Milka and Ritter Sport (the latter still a family-owned business,manufactured in Germany!) There was no more rose-flavoured jelly but much more down-to-earth "Alpenmilch","Vollmilch" and "Joghurt".

A life-time's journey via chocolate - quite fascinating I find. (And part of some more research on my part).

Happy to hear about your chocolate memories etc. on Twitter, @Margit11

©Margit Appleton 2012

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