British candy giant Cadbury, which has been owned by Mondelēz International since 2010, has been inundated with a deluge of furious Facebook messages and tweets after word got out it was selling its venerated old Creme Eggs in stingy packs of five instead of the traditional six-pack format. The Creme Egg three-pack has also been phased out for the Easter season, retailers do not appear to be charging less for fewer eggs, and everyone is freaking out.
Like Hershey in the U.S. — the Pennsylvania company manufactures Creme Eggs here — Cadbury is a beloved brand across the U.K. whose appeal is amplified by nostalgia, and it’s clear that consumers don’t appreciate the switcheroo; imagine a few thousand more tweets like the ones above and you get some idea of the Creme Egg-borne PR nightmare the company’s social-media people are dealing with at the moment.
The price and supply of cacao has in recent months been affected by everything from climate change to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The company says that “economic factors” such as “rising commodity costs” forced their hand.
“For the 2015 Easter season we amended the range because consumer research identified similar usage for our three and six-pack in the 2014 season,” Cadbury said last fall in a cryptic warning that went unheeded, or at least, apparently, undecoded. Now the chocolate eggs are in stores, however, and fans are lashing out at Kraft, a one-time owner, for screwing with the 191-year-old company.
But that’s not all. The price of cacao has also apparently led to a change in the way the beloved treat is made. “U.S. owners secretly change Creme Egg recipe,” one paper reported today. A Mondelēz International confirmed the shift. “It’s no longer Dairy Milk. It’s similar, but not exactly Dairy Milk. We tested the new one with consumers,” a spokesman said.
Cadbury explained on Twitter that the seasonal treat’s ovoid shape that the size of the egg itself has not changed, nor has its milky-white and yolky filling, but that’s looks like it’s going to be a hard sell in the age of the internet conspiracy theory: