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Thursday, May 11, 2017

May 11, 1889

Happy eleventh of May to all of you!  It's also a Throwback Thursday kind of day, and I think I'm going to touch upon a subject that is quite sweet.  May 11 may have been the last day of this gentleman's life, but in the over one hundred years since he passed, he made his mark on the world - one delicious footprint at a time.

But before we get to that, I'll talk about some of the other events that took place on May 11, as well as celebrity birthdays.

So, for historical happenings of May 11, we have the following;

868 - A copy of the Diamond Sutra is printed in China, making this the oldest known dated printed book

1502 - Christopher Columbus departs from Cadiz to embark on his fourth and final visit to the Americas

1812 - John Bellingham assassinates the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Spencer Perceval in the lobby of London's House of Commons

1858 - Minnesota becomes the thirty-second state to join the United States of America

1880 - Seven die in the Mussel Slough Tragedy

1888 - Composer Irving Berlin (d. 1989) is born in Tolochin, Russian Empire

1904 - Artist Salvador Dali (d. 1989) is born in Spain

1910 - Glacier National Park in Montana is established by the United States Congress

1911 - Comedian Phil Silvers (d. 1985) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1927 - The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is founded; on the same day, actor Bernard Fox (d. 2016) is born in Port Talbot, Wales

1945 - USS Bunker Hill is hit by two kamikazes, killing 346 members of its crew during World War II

1947 - American drummer and Allman Brothers Band member Butch Trucks (d. 2017) is born in Jacksonville, Florida

1949 - Siam officially changes its name to Thailand for the second time

1953 - Waco, Texas is devastated by an F5 tornado that strikes the downtown core - at least 114 are killed

1960 - Fugitive Nazi Adolf Eichmann is captured in Buenos Aires, Argentina

1963 - Actress Natasha Richardson (d. 2009) is born in Marylebone, London, England

1970 - An F5 tornado strikes Lubbock, Texas, killing 26

1981 - Jamaican singer Bob Marley dies at the age of 36

1982 - Actor/singer Cory Monteith (d. 2013) is born in Calgary, Alberta

1985 - Madonna's "Crazy for You" reaches #1 on the Billboard charts

1987 - Klaus Barbie goes on trial in Lyon, France for war crimes committed during the Second World War

1996 - One of the deadliest days of Mount Everest's history - a total of eight mountain climbers died during their attempts to reach the mountain's summit

1997 - Deep Blue becomes the first computer to defeat a world-champion chess player in a classic match

2006 - American boxer Floyd Patterson dies at the age of 71

2010 - David Cameron is elected Prime Minister of England

And the following people are turning one year older today; Mort Sahl, Arthur Labatt, Johnny Devlin, Eric Burdon, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Frances Fisher, Mike Lupica, Martha Quinn, Roark Critchlow, Jeffrey Donovan, Erin Lang, Kulap Vilaysack, Matt Leinart, Cam Newton, and Sabrina Carpenter.

Now, as I mentioned before, we're taking a trip back in time over a hundred years.  It's one of the oldest dates that I've ever taken a trip back in time to.

That date is May 11, 1889.  Yep.  That's right.  One hundred and twenty-eight years ago.

I also mentioned that today's topic is quite sweet considering that this date was the last day of someone's life.  Actually, that would be considered to be bittersweet, but let's just try to stick with the theme of the blog.

You see, before he passed away, this man was involved with one of the largest confection companies in the world.  In fact, it's currently the second largest candy manufacturer in the world with only Wrigley's ahead of it.  And I'm sure that most of you have sampled some of the products associated with this particular company...only you probably might not know it.

Truth be told, I think when it comes down to it, Easter is probably one of the best days to sample their wares.  If the bunny that clucks like a chicken doesn't jog your memory, certainly the delectable tastes of a Creme Egg, a packet of Mini Eggs, and perhaps even a couple of bars of Dairy Milk chocolate might give you an idea as to what subject we're talking about...

...or, in MY case, one gigantic Dairy Milk bar.  A holiday tradition for me since the mid 2000s at least.

Yes, John Cadbury was one of the leading figures behind the creation of the Cadbury Company - a confectionary company behind some of your favourite chocolate treats.  Whether it was Curlywurlys, Fruit and Nut bars, Rum and Butter Bars (WHICH NEED TO BE BROUGHT BACK ASAP), or Crunchie Bars (the BEST way to eat sponge toffee), I can't think of a kid in my area that HASN'T had at least one of these treats.

Well, any kids that aren't allergic to chocolate anyway.

But here's some things that you might not know about this British chocolate maker.  Well, aside from the fact that he died on May 11, 1889 at the age of 87.

Born in Birmingham, England on August 12, 1801, Cadbury was born into a family of Quakers - a historic group of religious movements known as the Religious Society of Friends.  But Cadbury found that being a Quaker in 19th century England meant that certain opportunities were not available to him.  Quakers were not allowed to enter or enroll in a university, so any hopes of a career in law or medicine were not an option.  Nor could he join the armed forces, as Quakers were also pacifists.

So, he shifted his focus towards business opportunities, and one thing that you might not be aware of is the fact that before he went into the world of developing and producing chocolate treats, he embarked on a crusade to stop animal cruelty.  He formed an organization known as the Animal Friends Society which would evolve into the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.  Now that's an interesting piece of information that I didn't even know myself!

It was in 1824 that Cadbury would begin his chocolate empire of sorts.  He started selling teas, coffees, and cocoa mixtures in Birmingham, and soon started producing his own versions of cocoa and drinking chocolate for consumption.  It wasn't long after that when he decided to go into the business of chocolate making with his brother, Benjamin.  In 1854, not long after opening up an office in London, they received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria herself to manufacture chocolate and cocoa to her and her royal court.  You know your product must be good if the Queen orders the product exclusively.

Tough times in the 1850s caused the split in partnership between John and Benjamin, and by the time that John's sons George and Richard took over the business, it was already in financial trouble and was forced to lay off almost half the staff.  However, the sons' decision to abandon the coffee and tea part of the business and focus more on the chocolate development paid off, and by the mid 1860s, the business had done a complete turnaround!  I'm sure John would have been proud.

By the time that John passed away in 1889, Cadbury was becoming a huge powerhouse in the chocolate making business.  It's just a shame he didn't live long enough to sample the Dairy Milk bar - the quintessential Cadbury creation made with more milk than any other milk chocolate bar wasn't invented until 1905.  I'm sure he would have found it delicious!

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