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Birmingham’s Enduring Treat for Chocolate Lovers

A steady — some may say, boring — routine has advantages: There’s no time for temptations to seek what’s out there. Only when the ordinary is shaken up and we step away from our daily routine, like when we’re travelling, that old longings and desires arise from the dead.

I’m talking about chocolate, of course.

“Temptation is very hard to resist,” says Father Julius, a character played by Rowan Atkinson in the recent movie Wonka,” who tells his fellow priests just before a funeral where a pious widow will be in attendance that they shouldn’t eat chocolate during the service. “We shall be judged for our sins. But it’s not going to be today.”

Father Julius realizes, ruefully, as a giraffe gives chase in a memorable scene, that he has sold his soul for 30 pieces of chocolate. Wonka, the origin story of chocolatier Willy Wonka, has passed $600 million in box-office sales worldwide since opening a week before Christmas in 2023 and sparked renewed interest in the original chocolate factory run by Cadbury. The brand, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, remains one of the best-selling chocolate-makers in the world.

Chocolate Creme Eggs at Cadbury World

Chocolate World Creme Eggs are among the treats that are indulged in during Easter. At top, Cadbury World reveals the wonders of chocolate-making to its adoring visitors. (Petti Fong photo of creme eggs for VacayNetwork.com; Cadbury World photo of chocolate-maker)

Cadbury World, in Birmingham, is better known today as one of the most popular family tourist destinations in the United Kingdom, with chocolate-making demonstrations and 4-D roller-coaster rides through deep dives into liquid chocolates.

“The movie raised awareness about chocolate-making,” said Debbie Besseker, head of guest services at Cadbury World. “We are seeing kids dress up as Willy Wonka when they come here because to them this is all about showing their love for chocolate.”

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Every day, 1.5 million Cadbury Creme Easter Eggs are produced, and 400 million chocolate eggs with the white and yellow fondant — made with paprika extract for the yolk color — are eaten yearly. You can only purchase them between January and Easter. Giving up chocolate is one of the most revered Christian traditions during Lent, and, for many followers, the practice ends with a Cadbury treat on Easter.

In the 1980s, Cadbury began selling its creme eggs year-round, but sales fell. The lesson learned: Only sell chocolate cream eggs in the months before Easter, and even the most tempted will have no choice but to wait.

Another Cadbury marketing plan is linked to the most famous book about chocolate, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl. This year, as in past years, tickets with cash prizes were hidden in Cadbury creme eggs, a tie-in to the famous Golden Ticket from the book, which guaranteed any holder entry into the world of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Cadbury World Chocolate Creme Eggs

At Cadbury World, the making of Easter eggs is among the most important activities in the company. (Petti Fong photo for VacayNetwork.com)

Dahl’s love for chocolate was well-known, particularly for Cadbury. The company created a life-long fan in Dahl when it sent boxes of new flavors of chocolates as samples to the boarding school he attended as a boy. Dahl dreamed of inventing a chocolate bar that would impress the founder of Cadbury.

Dahl said in a BBC interview once that he eats chocolate every day. He could rattle off the years when chocolate bars were invented, such as the Cadbury Milk Flake in 1921. He said that when chocolate bars were first available should be known to everyone. “Who wants to know when the kings of England were born?” he insisted, when what matters were the dates when chocolate bars was invented.

“They were all, every one of them, the great chocolate bars that you eat today, invented in the 1930s,” he said.

Kit Kats were invented in 1935, Maltesers in 1936, Dahl recounted. “Like the Italian Renaissance is to painting, the 1930s is to chocolate.”

A renaissance for today might be found in one of the most innovative wonderlands at the Hotel One Aldwych in London. An afternoon tea inspired by Willy Wonka is set in a dazzling room designed to make anyone believe in the magic of candy factories and inventive storytelling, with a menu to match.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Cadbury World

Not only is “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” an inspiration at Cadbury World, it’s among the items available for purchase. (Petti Fong photo for VacayNetwork.com)

Fans of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” will find a-ha moments in the savories, which include the not-quite-as-it-seems beetroot macaron and spinach roly-poly. But it’s the scrumptious sweets of the afternoon tea that have become much sought-after must-dos for any visitor. They include fizzy-lifting lemonade posset, hair toffee mousse, and caramel chocolate milkshake. The afternoon I was there, I chatted with families from China, the United States, Switzerland, and Germany. If Swiss and German visitors are journeying to have chocolate here, the One Aldwych’s thematic tea is definitely hitting the sweet spot. No golden ticket needed.

MORE ABOUT CADBURY WORLD

Location: 69 Linden Rd, Birmingham, UK (see map below)
Admission: 18.95 British pounds (approximately $24 USD or $33 CAD)
Website: www.cadburyworld.co.uk