(p. D10) In India, few foreign confections have been more eagerly embraced than chocolate — and no brand defines this affinity more than Cadbury.
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This brand loyalty endures even among members of the Indian diaspora, like Rajani Konkipudi, 47, who grew up in Visakhapatnam, in Andhra Pradesh, and now lives in the Detroit area. . . .
In 2005, she visited Cadbury’s factory in Birmingham to make, as she called it, the “holy pilgrimage.”
A decade later, she is one of several smaller competitors seeking to challenge the dominance of Cadbury, and of milk chocolate in general, among Indians.
Ms. Konkipudi’s business, Dwaar Chocolate, in West Bloomfield Township, Mich., sells small-batch chocolate that is a far cry from her corporate rival’s. Her cacao beans come from family-run farms in Ecuador and India, and wind up in cardamom- and pistachio-speckled bars meant to mimic the taste of pistachio kulfi, or truffles inspired by paan, a crunchy, sharply flavored after-dinner snack in which she replaces betel nuts with cocoa nibs.
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Growing up in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Alak Vasa, who owns Elements Truffles in Union City, N.J., used to make frequent trips to the store with her grandfather to buy Cadbury chocolate. She founded Elements in 2015 with her husband, Kushal Choksi, seeking to emphasize the health benefits of dark chocolate and make sweets free of refined sugar, as a wholesome alternative to mass-market brands.
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Madhu Chocolate, started by Elliott Curelop and Harshit Gupta in 2018 in Austin, Texas, has adopted a similar strategy; its most popular offering is a masala chai dark-chocolate bar whose mild sweetness is tempered with heady ginger and clove. “When we talk about masala chai, people are like, ‘This is how my mom makes chai,’” Mr. Gupta said.
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The wide consumption of dried fruits and nuts in India — as well as the cult popularity of Cadbury’s fruit-and-nut bar — informs Zeinorin Stephen’s offerings at Hill Wild, a chocolate company she founded in 2017 with her husband, Leiyolan Vashum, in Ukhrul, Manipur. She channels those flavors by incorporating locally harvested sesame and perilla seeds, plum and wild apple in her bars.
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Surbhi Sahni, 45, who owns Tagmo Treats, in Yonkers, N.Y., draws a similarly young, savvy crowd for her chocolate-coated besan ladoos and kaju katli. About 40 to 50 percent of her annual sales occur during Diwali.
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In India, Hill Wild and Kocoatrait have been joined by a growing number of independent chocolate businesses, including Soklet and Mason & Company, that offer dark chocolate and heavily tout their sustainable-farming methods.
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(Note: the online version of the story was updated Nov. 17, 2020, and has the title “Indians Love Cadbury Chocolate. These Rivals Would Love to Woo Them Away.”)