We compared the UK's favourite chocolate to the version that's sold in the US -- and we were surprised by what we found

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderCadbury as it is sold in the US (left) compared to how it is sold in the UK (right).
  • The Hershey Company owns the rights to manufacture Cadbury chocolate in the US.
  • It banned imports of British-made Cadbury chocolate in 2015.
  • British expats claim that Cadbury’s chocolate in the US tastes nothing like its UK counterpart, but according to Hershey, there’s barely any difference in the ingredients.
  • We tried both to see if we could tell the difference.

The difference in taste between Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate on either side of the Atlantic has become one of the most contentious debates of our time.

For chocolate enthusiasts from the UK, the American version tastes like chalk and cheese. For others (with muted taste buds, perhaps), there’s no real difference.

This debate is especially significant to a Brit brought up in a country where Cadbury chocolate abounds and now finds themselves living at the mercy of Hershey in America. That is not to say that all American chocolate is inferior to the UK’s – it is not.

Unless we are talking about Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, that is.

The mysterious history of these two bars dates back to 1988, when Hershey paid $US300 million for the US operations of the British candymaker Cadbury. This included Mounds, Almond Joy, and York Peppermint Patties, as well as Cadbury products such as Dairy Milk and Carmello. At the time, Cadbury used this as a way to enter the US market, which was dominated by Mars and Hershey.

Then, in 2015, Hershey took legal action to bar US imports of Cadbury products that had been manufactured in the UK. A Hershey representative told The New York Times at that time that the company had the rights to manufacture Cadbury chocolate in America using different recipes.

The Cadbury Dairy Milk bar that you’ll find in the US today tastes almost nothing like its British counterpart, and there are different explanations for this.

The New York Times reported in 2015 that the British version of Cadbury has a higher fat content, as its main ingredient is milk. In an American-made Cadbury bar, the first listed ingredient is sugar.

But, according to Hershey, this is an incorrect interpretation of the bars’ ingredients.

The Cadbury bars’ contents appear to be different on each side of the pond because of different labelling standards in the EU and the US.

A Hershey spokesperson told Business Insider: “Our Cadbury Milk bars [in the US] start with quality ingredients we get straight from the Cadbury plant in the British Isles. Our ‘chocolate crumb’ – the core mixture of chocolate, sugar and milk – are made at the Cadbury plant using the same amounts of milk, sugar and chocolate as the UK version. In fact, it’s the same milk sourced by Cadbury from cows in Europe. We add cocoa butter and mould the milk chocolate into bars for sale in the United States.”

The only differences are the fat content and the amount of cocoa used in each bar. The US Cadbury bars use only cocoa butter as the “fat,” in order to meet FDA standards. In the UK, the company is also allowed to use vegetable oils such as palm and shea.

We put them to the test to see how different they tasted:


Here are the two bars side by side.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderUS Dairy Milk (top) and UK Dairy Milk (bottom).

The packaging is the first difference we notice.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderUK Dairy Milk.

The US packaging is significantly more glitzy.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The cubes are much flatter and wider.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderUS Dairy Milk.

In the UK bar, each cube is slightly raised.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

But both have the well-known Cadbury’s logo.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

We kick off with the UK version.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The first bite is glorious. It’s creamy, sweet but not sickening, and the texture is smooth.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderUK Dairy Milk.

The aftertaste is the best part. It lingers. Each time you chew, it becomes that much creamier.

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderUK Dairy Milk.

Next, to the US version. The first bite feels similar.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

But then we chew. There’s no creamy taste, and our mouth fills with the taste of cocoa.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The aftertaste is bitter, and we quickly realise that the raised top of the UK bar isn’t for aesthetics — it makes the texture considerably smoother.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

To ensure we’re not just being patriotic, we asked four other American tasters to try out each bar.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The results were mixed. One noticed no difference at all, one preferred the US bar, noting that it had a creamier aftertaste, and the remaining two preferred the UK version, claiming that it was significantly less bitter.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

“I had the US one first, and I thought it was good, and then I tried the other and it was much better,” one tester said.

“I can’t taste anything different at all,” another said.


Ultimately, it comes down to the ingredients.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The only differences are the fat content and the amount of cocoa used in each bar. The US Cadbury bars use only cocoa butter as the “fat,” in order to meet FDA standards. In the UK, the company is also allowed to use vegetable oils such as palm and shea.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The difference is subtle, but it’s real.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

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