Think of delicious chocolate — the treat that can instantly tickle your tastebuds and perk up your mood — and the odds are that Cadbury wouldn’t be far from your lips and your sweet tooth.
The iconic brand, which can be traced back to John Cadbury’s first shop, opened in 1824 in BullStreet in Birmingham, is known the world over.
But if you want to find out more about renowned products from Dairy Milk to Creme Eggs and Caramel, then there is only one destination for chocaholics— Cadbury World in Bournville, just a stone’s throw from Birmingham town centre.
I must admit that when the wife and I packed our two youngsters — aged five and seven — into the car I expected to arrive at a mecca simply designed to sell chocolate at inflated prices.
However, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. What we actually found was a true experience that included everything from the nuts and bolts of chocolate production to interactove displays, demonstrations and a colourful cornucopia of enjoyment for the senses.
Across 14 zones the exhibition and centre as a whole hits just the right balance between informative and theme park.
The roots of the company are explained in a way that every visitor can appreciate after you wander along a replica of Bull Street itself.
It was eye opening to discover how the factory, when it was first opened, gave rise to the community surrounding it under the guidance of Cadbury’s sons.
The company built houses, a school, church and other facilities for its workers. The firm introduced great working conditions and benefits and staff were more of an extended family than a workforce.
Among the first attractions is a three-room experience explaining the evolution of chocolate from the cocoa bean.
From here you take a walk through the working factory before having the chance to enjoy a green-screen experience where you and your family can be superimposed onto a picture of a bath-tub or surf a bar of Dairy Milk in the swell of a chocolate wave.
My personal favourite on the day was the psychadelic journey on thecolourful ‘Cadabra’. It’s on board the Beanmobiles for a gentle ride through a chocolate wonderland full of familiar characters as you discover the magic of Cadbury.
Among the other zones is the ‘Advertising Adventure’ which takes you through some of Cadbury’s most memorable ad campaign. And don’t miss the gorilla playing the drums to Phil Collins.
Demonstrations as you walk around are often enough without being overppowering as you tuck into free samples of gooey delight.
There is also the chance for the kids to run off a few calories in the ‘African Adventure’ play area before heading into the 4D cinema.
A cafe, a shop where you can grab a little piece of Cadbury’s past all add to rather than detract from the experience.
This was a wonderful outing that I would have no hesitation in recommending to all ages.
n For ticket prices and opening times and to make bookings for Cadbury World visit www.cadburyworld.co.uk or call 0844 880 7667.