Dear Dairymilk

Dairymilk chocolate bar partially unwrapped

I’d heard the rumours before we moved here. But with a list of priorities that included making sure our house contents made it here in one piece, not losing any of the kids at the airport, and squeezing winter duvets, nappies and all manner of bulky items into half a dozen giant suitcases while staying within the allowed weight – somehow, chocolate didn’t figure much in my thoughts.

Then, one day, about a month later, we were in the supermarket, loading our shopping onto the conveyor belt at the till, and we had a look at the shelf behind us that displayed an assortment of chocolate bars. So many strange names and packets! Reese, Mr Big and Coffee Crunch lay side-by-side with Twix, Bounty and Snickers. And what the hell was O Henry?

We each picked something, the kids and K all went for something new, but I reverently selected a bar of Dairymilk….. it had been a while, a lot had changed in my life, and I craved the unadulterated enjoyment of simple, solid chocolate. I deserved some Cadbury joy and no frivolous peanut or nougat was going to mar this long-awaited hit!

As we strolled homeward, the sun sinking in the sky, the kids leapt about and shrieked their delight at the novelty of their choices, describing tastes and contents and comparing the relative merits of each others treats. But it all faded to a distant cacophony as I put a square of Dairymilk into my mouth and waited for that slow spread of chocolate ecstasy, as it melted on my tongue and permeated my taste buds…

It never came.

The taste was different, hollow, plastic. I was reminded of the time my sister told me to close my eyes and open my mouth, telling me she was giving me chocolate, then fed me cheese instead. I spat it out in disgust, not because I disliked cheese, but because it wasn’t what I was expecting. “They” were right. Chocolate was different here. With that realisation: no more chocolate as a soothing salve for life’s slings and arrows, the bottom fell out of my world.

I hid it well, no-one would have been any the wiser about the little light in me that had been extinguished. But I knew from then on, that the special relationship between chocolate and I had come to an end. I cited “Irreconcilable differences (in taste)”…

I am now in a long-distance relationship with real Dairymilk. It’s difficult, we have no contact for long periods of time, and then, when we are reunited we try to take things slowly, taking time to savour and appreciate, extending the experience as far as we can (it’s all very tantric). Sometimes I seek solace outside our relationship, but it is never meaningful. Just sex chocolate – nothing more.


O, divine chocolate!
They grind thee kneeling,
Beat thee with hands praying,
And drink thee with eyes to heaven

Marco Antonio Orellana, 18th Century


Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. I lovvveee Oh Henry but I cant find them anymore. In the Caribbean, I grew up on them. Don’t see them here in the states. And since my island was a British colony at one point, we did a lot of importing from England….Cadbury chocolates was something else I grew up loving. Hazlenut and Fruit and Nut are my faves. They do infact taste different here in the U.S so I don’t buy them here anymore but I have a friend that mails them to me from England, along with Mcvites ginger nuts (ginger snaps) and fox’s cookies
    I love English Cadbury chocolate because it’s sooo rich!

  2. I feel your pain. The excitement at seeing Cadburys Dairy Milk, the joy of the purchase, the disappointment of the taste. I don’t know if things have changed, but back in the day that chocolate was actually made in Port Elizabeth, South Africa – written in tiny script on the back of the wrapper. After that experience I always checked the back of the wrapper.

    Unless it’s made in the UK it ain’t the real thing!

    1. TOTALLY agree with you! I’ll be checking the wrapper next time, but I fear it has probably issued from a factory in the British midlands, staffed by diabetics…

  3. I lived in Vancouver for a while with a load of expats from various counties – we often used to have chocolate tastings (whenever anyone new joined the team) – most of us were from New Zealand (I’m a Brit but was based in NZ at the time… it’s a long story)…. any how, the long and the short of it is that in a blind tasting, NZ Dairy Milk was always the winner, followed by UK and, trailing far behind, the Canadian stuff… which just isn’t Dairy Milk at all. If you get a chance, get your hands on the NZ stuff, it’s the best!

  4. I was a serious chocoholic before I moved to the States. Now, in all honesty, I barely touch the stuff. The Dairy Milk is “imported by Hersheys” or some such nonsense. I’d rather go without, and that’s saying something.

  5. It’s funny, my American friends really do not like Cadbury’s they think it’s too sweet and we Brits really don’t care much for Hersheys – we find it too bitter… But yes, you are right, Cadbury’s Chocolate (made in UK) is the best chocolate in the world. Now, where did I hide my stash…

  6. Hilarious! I’ve just returned from Thanksgiving in the UK, with 10 tins of Roses, 6 giant Toblerone, and 8 Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, 6 boxes of Matchmakers, and about 10 kg of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut. Obsessed, moi???

    1. So jealous!!!!! It’s a bit “above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty” to request friends to load up on Quality Street tins when they return to the UK for Xmas. I’ll just have to concentrate on the benefits to the waistline area Aaahhhh, there we go, I’m already on a higher Zen-like plane of consciousness!

  7. oh how I agree with you! can’t buy it here in Portugal either very easily and I miss it!!! someone brought out three BIG bars for me recently and I hoarded it and savoured each square….. when I was growing up my Godmother worked at Cadbury’s (how cool was that!) so we had carrier bags of chocolate every birthday/Christmas and Easter – pure heaven!!!

    1. You lucky so-and-so! A contact on the ground at Cadburys! I’d give my mercury fillings for that! I know what you mean about savouring every square… I refuse to share it with the kids because I figure they’re just as happy with the confectionary here and the delicacy that is PROPER Cadbury’s would be wasted on them! Unfortunately my husband is not so easily diverted…

  8. I hear you. I grew up on Canadian chocolate, so I can handle it, but what a treat it is to visit England and indulge in the good stuff! I was at Heathrow a couple of months ago and practically needed another carry-on to hold my Cadbury bounty. But if you think the Canadian chocolate is bad, be glad you’re not living in SE Asia. They do something with the chocolate to adjust the melting point, and it is positively vile.

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