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THE BBC World Service alerted me to yet another world conflict, this one between chocolatiers. Sometimes called the Chocolate War, in legal circles it can be identified as Kit Kat v. Cadbury and it has been going on for years. Like many conflicts, this one concerns national borders; unlike others that come to mind, it also involves Pantone 2685C and four-finger shapes.
Heritage plays a role in this conflict. Cadbury was founded in Birmingham, England, in 1824. This was long after the London Chocolatehouse Craze of the 1700s, when the English first succumbed to this beverage hitherto associated with popery, idleness and the French.
One of Cadbury’s most popular products, the Dairy Milk bar, was introduced in 1905. The name derived from the chocolate’s containing a higher proportion of milk compared to that of its competitors. From the beginning, Dairy Milk came wrapped in distinctive purple, technically Pantone 2685C.
Lawrence Herbert, originally with an American printing company, devised the Pantone Color Matching System in 1963. Pantone Guides are used in a variety of industries for identifying specific hues.
In 2004, Cadbury trademarked Pantone 2685C. In 2008, competitor Nestlé appealed this. What with one thing and another, in 2013 the court ruled in favor of Nestlé. This company has yet to wrap its Butterfinger, Goobers, Lion or Crunch in Pantone 2685C. But apparently, Nestlé is free to do so. At least until another court ruling on the matter.
Pause here for some Nestlé heritage: This multinational was founded as the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company in Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland, in 1866. The name Nestlé arose with a merger the same year Cadbury Dairy Milk was introduced, 1905. Among Nestle’s many other acquisitions was Rowntree Mackintosh in 1988.
And it was Rowntree that, in 1935, invented Kit Kat, the four-finger chocolate-covered wafer biscuit bar. Or, as I should now call it, a four-finger chocolate-covered wafer biscuit bar, hereinafter, an FFCCWBB.
Nor are these the only two chocolatiers involved. Since 1937 Norway’s Freia has had an FFCCWBB in its Kvikk Lunsj (Norwegian for “quick lunch”). In 1999, Freia gave competitors the figurative finger by introducing Kvikk Lunsj XXL, an FFCCWBB with one wider appendage.
In 2010, Nestlé attempted to patent the FFCCWBB concept, but guess who objected (and won): Cadbury. In June 2015, a European Court of Justice ruled that Nestlé’s Kit Kat had no claim to FFCCWBB unicity.
The conflict continues. American chocolatier Hershey, established in 1894, acquired rights in 1988 to manufacture and sell many (but not all) Cadbury products in the U.S. An independent importer marketed the genuine articles until a court agreement in 2014 put an end to this.
Many chocolate aficionados are not amused, and with good reason. The Brit Cadbury Dairy Milk bar lists milk as its first ingredient; the ’Merican Cadbury Dairy Milk lists sugar.
On the other hand, Cadbury has been part of (U.S.) Kraft since 2010, so write them, not me. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2015