Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Choc bottom

It's been nearly three months since I first discovered the news, but it is only now that I finally possess the strength to publicly acknowledge and discuss it.

My darling mother, always concerned for my welfare and self esteem, found this article and rang me, her voice heavy with tact and love: "Kath, I think you're going to want to read this...."

Her voice cracked with emotion: she was nearly as devastasted as I was at the news.

No, no 'Bashing Barry's Big Day' but that Cadbury's chocolate factory tours are no more.

Y'see, I've long dreamed of visiting their factory tour and outlet in Tasmania and have been tantatalised by the tales of other such lucky souls - and by the heaving ten kilogram bag-loads of booty they've shared with me.

My mother visited there with her parents in 1960, and recalls being free to walk the factory floor, literally dipping her finger into whatever mixture took her fancy, tasting it and grabbing whatever she saw. No pesky little hygiene worries in those days. Her big green eyes glistened, and her hands automatically formed into grasping, bear-like paws when she told me this story, and believe me, she told it to me often when I was a child. As an adult, I can calculate the regularity of the tale being retold every four weeks, so clearly it was a PMS panacea for dear old Pauline. And who could blame her? This was the very woman who bought family-sized blocks by the tens when they were on special at Woolies; squirrelled away packets of Fantails in her bedside drawer and Fruit-n-Nut under her sewing machine.

In the freezing Tasmanian summer of 1983, we made the trek back to Tassie. I was glued to my Sony Walkman and busy sulking about enduring snow on the top of Mount Wellington and not being able to enjoy the sunshine in our neighbour's swimming pool. "Don't worry Kath, we'll be visiting the Cadbury factory as well you know." This promise was dangled in front of my terse teenaged face like a lifeline.

Imagine my disappointment when we pulled up to the nearby town's Information booth, only to be told that Cadbury crassly closed their factory to 'tourists' every summer. It was the way the lady said 'tourists' that really annoyed me. I wasn't a tatty tourist, I was a Devoted Pilgrim, seeking salvation and succulence at my spiritual home. OK yes, so I wasn't traveling on foot wearing sackcloth and ashes and was instead clad in a parka, levis cords and desert boots sitting in the relative comfort of our toyota landcruiser and 23 foot long caravan, but still, my young heart was yearning for the secret workings and tastings of the largest chocolate maker in the nation.

Twenty five years later, Love Chunks and I were recently talking about taking Sapphire on a drive-around-stay-in-bed-and-breakfasts-and-pretend-we're-in-England holiday to Tasmania in the next school break. Naturally, we'd slot in a visit to the Cadbury Factory of course. Bugger.

Sure my tastes have grown to encompass Lindt, Haighs, Nestle, Dove, Whittakers, Mars, Cocoa Farm, Fruchocs, Swiss Glory, Ferrero, Mahony, Red Tulip and Chocolatier, but we always remember our first love, don't we Precioussssss?

Still, I've managed to soldier on since discovering this sad news, and continue to be a legally-acceptable parent to Sapphire, mediocre wifey unit to Love Chunks, wear vaguely OK clothing out in public and pretty well function as a relatively normal member of society. However, whilst running on the treadmill this morning, I noticed the usual data on the screen:

Total distance: 7.00 kilometres
Time: 37 Min 03 seconds
Calories: 640.

After breakfast and a shower, I looked at the nutrition panel of the heavenly Haigh's milk chocolate coffee block pictured above, and my heart sank. This wee slice of bliss, in a mere 100g - or standard Kath-sized sample - contained a whopping 523 calories. All that exhausting, sweat-stinging-my-eyes, achilles-heel-hurting, lung-bustingly painful running only burned off an additional 117 crappy little calories.

So if I continue my chocaholism, all I can eat for the remainder of each day is an apple and a glass of milk.

Oh well, if that's the sacrifice I have to make, then so be it.


eleanor bloom said...

Love this post Kath.

I went when I was 12, so that must have been 1985. I still have photos of me wearing the silly hat they gave you for hygienic purposes (I think one is of us standing on the roof). I can recall, as a pre-teen girl, being none too impressed with this unflattering attire. Of course we weren't allowed to touch anything, but we did get a few samples handed about.

I recalled hearing the news recently. Very sorry for you Kath, and send my best wishes to you and yours during this difficult time. (I suggest you boycott Cadbury's... for a short while.)

Homo J. Sapien said...

That would explain all the Oompah-Loompahs I saw outside Centrelink the other day. No wait... they must have been urban fringe-dwellers (yes, yes, I'm a bitch).

Spicy Bug said...

Now I dont feel bad that I never visited the Hershey Chocolate Factory!

River said...

My Kath is taking a mini holiday in Tassie later this year with her best friend. I'm trying to convince them to visit Cadbury and bring me back a 5kg box of goodies.
Off topic, did you see in today's paper that in SA FUIC outsells Coke by 3-1? So Coke wants to get in on the choccie milk market.

ashleigh said...

It was closed at Christmas when we went there. And the day after Christmas we got snowed on, on Mount Wellington :)

So no more tours at all. Wonder why. Must be something to do with the Case of The Purple and Darrell Lea....

The Blakkat said...

Condolences, Kath. You're certainly the real chocoholic deal. Don't hate me or anything, but I can generally take or leave the little brown squares. I've got a couple of gfs who have some serious chocolate addictions but you make them seem light weight.

Baino said...

Oh the pain! Whilst I don't share your passion for chocolate we took the kids camping in Tassie years ago where I contracted a thumping dose of Chicken Pox on what day you ask? The same day the 'others' and the kids went to tour Cadbury's. I was nigh unconscious in a grubby overnight caravan,sick as a dog and unable to eat the 2 kilo bag of lovelies that the ankle biters bought to cheer me up! Ah well, anonther paradise lost. *sob* What better excuse than to visit Switzerland and tour the Lindt factory?

Kath Lockett said...

*Thank you for your kind thoughts during this difficult time, Eleanor.

*HomoJ - I'll adopt the Oompahs if I ever find them...

*Spicy Bug - don't bother with Hersheys. Ever.

*River - your Kath MUST visit, if only to get her bargain bag of choccies from the shop. As for Farmers Union Iced Coffee, that is the reason why we South Australians drink more milk per head than anywhere else in the world. Yeah, it's THAT good.

*Ashleigh - maybe you guys were the other family I saw suffering on Mt Wellington when we were there?

* Blakkat - I wish I had your indifference, as does my arse.

* Baino - see, as with Ashleigh, Cadbury/Tassie seems to be conspiring against us. As for Lindt and Switzerland, I may have some news for you re that in the near future.....

Chestnut Filly said...

What devastating news. I'm so thankful my Dear One & I visited it in 2001. There was a waiting list of several weeks & we'd had to book our places long before our holiday. Dear One was very embarrassed when he was required to wear a 'face cover' because he hadn't shaved for several days.

Naomi said...

We did Tassie and the Cadbury factory with the boys some years ago! It was awesome - they got the freebies on the tour and then into the factory shop - almost had to pay excess baggage on the flight back home but oh it was so worth it!

Anonymous said...

Oh No! Don't tell me that Lindt are closing their factory store also?????? We were planning to visit in September! (Mrs Dump)

Roxiticus Desperate Housewives said...

Great to see my smiling face on your EntreCard widget...hope it will bring you good luck in your Battle of the've got my vote!


eastcoastlife said...

Hi kath lockett,
Thanks for stopping by. Greetings from Singapore! Glad you enjoy my travel posts.

I love Cadbury bars from Australia! I always have people coming back from Australia buy me at least one bar!

I didn't know I could visit the Cadbury factory in Tasmania! If I had known, I would have done it when I was there in years 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006!!! arghhhhhh