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Top Television Ad Campaigns - The Cadbury Caramilk Secret Revealed

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"How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar?" According to one of the most successful advertizing campaigns of the last century, and its creator, Gary Prouk, this mystery has plagued mankind since the beginnings of time.

First introduced in 1968, the Caramilk bar, is also sold under license in the US by the Hershey company, and in Australia as the Caramello bar. With his imaginative campaign, Prouk took a little known chocolate bar, made by a rising Canadian candy manufacturer, Cadbury Adams, and rocketed the caramel-filled confection into media Super-Stardom. In a stroke of marketing genius, Prouk's clever commercials borrowed iconic characters from history and fiction, characters who had already captured the popular imagination, to carry his message.

Cadbury's delectable morsel

Cadbury's Caramilk - photo from

Cadbury's Caramilk - photo from

Using classic, iconic characters to market your product

What do Mona Lisa, cone-headed Aliens, Leonardo DaVinci, Hal, the computer from "2001: A Space Odyssey," talking dolphins, and James Bond have in common? They have all been featured characters in Cadbury Caramilk commercials.

The psychology behind these uber-successful campaigns, is both the most basic marketing strategy, and a brilliant master stroke by an extremely clever ad man:

  • find something that already exists - preferably, a commodity you already own
  • convince people that they need it
  • use clever humor, and familiar, easily identifiable icons that appeal on a variety of levels

Prouk turned an idle question - "Gee, I wonder how they get that runny stuff inside the chocolate?" - into a multi-layered, multi-faceted, multi-million dollar advertising campaign.

Leonardo's inspiration won a Clio Award

Salute to Stanley Kubrick - Another Winner!

Cadbury's James Bond, an homage to the "Spy" genre

Some of the top commercials

Almost all of the Caramilk ads are clever and funny, making each little gem a true homage to the character, author, or genre it honors.

Leonardo's inspiration for the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile is credited to a chance happening. Unable to capture the essence of his sitter, DaVinci calls for a break.

Mona savors a square of the candy treat she has been saving for just such a moment. The famous smile slips magically into being - a miracle now creatively credited to the Cadbury candy bar.

Stanley Kubric's homicidal computer had a go at keeping the Cadbury secret secure. In a reprise of one of the best, scariest scenes from "2001: A Space Odyssey" Hal, the computer, blows Dave out the airlock to prevent him from learning the secret.

The barely-inflected computer voice is so perfectly reminiscent of the movie that the hair stands up on the back of your neck just a tiny bit, even while you chuckle at the audacity of the advertiser.

The Bond films that so captured the popular imagination received a series of treatments from the chocolate bar marketers with several episodes of "our man in chocolate secrets" eluding a lusciously fatale femme.

Complete with high-tech gadgets and high-style settings, these cheeky ads capture the sophistication of the genre while poking fun at the cliches inherent in so many spy movies.

A few of the Caramilk ad campaigns have been less than stellar, though. Later ad campaigns suffered from lack-luster production, and some irredeemable silliness. The "ninja" ad was mildly amusing, but certainly not up to the high level of entertainment value achieved by the best of the Cadbury campaigns.

There was only one true stinker in the bunch - the "Modern Dance" advertizement. Where the other ads were typically clever, this one clunks along like a real, genuinely bad, interpretive dance.

Cadbury's Easter Treat

Photo from

Photo from

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Cadbury's Seasonal Goodies

First introduced in 1968, the caramel confection is also marketed as Cadbury's Easter Cream Eggs. Part of the cachet of this seasonal treat, and a large part of the advertizing campaigns, is that these incredibly cute and egg-like, but incredibly sweet morsels are available for a limited time each year.

As the Easter season approaches, the Canadian airwaves are once again blessed with clever commercials heralding the return of the Cadbury Bunny.

A few fun Caramilk facts

  • From their humble beginnings in 1849, as marketers of Sir Hans Sloane' Milk Chocolate drink in London and Brimingham, UK, the Cadbury Brothers venture has grown into a diverse, global confectionery enterprise.
  • In 2009, Cadbury Canada began an initiative to build bikes for children in Africa by crediting one bike part for each Cadbury candy bar UPC turned in to Cadbury Canada. Their web site states:

"Each CadburyTM UPC equals one virtual bike part and it takes 100 parts to make each virtual bike. Since the Bicycle Factory first opened in 2009, we have built 9332 specially-designed bicycles, that make it easier for thousands of children to get to and from school."

  • in February, 2010, Cabury became part of the Kraft foods family
  • With estimated annual revenue of roughly 48 billion dollars, Kraft Foods, Caramilk's mother company ensures that the sweet confection continue to be readily available.
  • Annual Canadian consumption is estimated at 33 million Cadbury Caramilk bars.
  • Cadbury asserts that though many urban and internet myths, and pure fabrications abound, the "Caramilk secret," closely guarded for forty years, remains a secret.

A recent entry into a long line of superior ad campaigns, the Cadbury Golden Key campaign offers a chance to learn the Cadbury secret by finding one of the ten golden keys hidden in ten randomly selected Caramilk bars.

The Grand Prize in the campaign include $125,000.00 up front, possession of an envelope containing the Cadbury secret for six months, and the promise of a further $125,000.00 if the envelope is returned, unopened, after the six month period expires.

The nine runners-up win Caramilk bars for life and a free trip to the Toronto factory where Caramilk bars are made, to see if their key will unlock the vault containing the secret.

Where are Caramilk bars made?

Though Caramilk is now one of the brand names owned by Kraft Foods, and is sold under license by The Hersey Company in the United States, Caramilk bars are produced right here in Canada, in the Gladstone Chocolate Factory, in Toronto, ON.

Image from

Image from

What's your fav?

So - how DO they get the caramel into the Caramilk bar?

At the risk of taking away all the romance and mystique so carefully cultivated around this burning question, the Caramilk bar is made using a simple but clever inverted-mold process.

The Caramilk bar is actually poured upside-down. The top of the bar is poured first with the chocolate flowing into a mold that looks a lot like a series of linked ice cube molds or trays.

The mold is half-filled, and then pre-molded and frozen pieces of caramel are added, which float to the top. Then the rest of the chocolate mold is filled, creating a smooth surface (the bottom) over the frozen caramel bits.

The bar is then popped out of the mold and covered with its distinctive wrapper. From there, it's a short trip to the confectioners' shelves, and into our waiting hands.

There you have it!

It's up to you to judge whether this is just another internet myth. Might this be the real secret or is that still safely locked in the Cadbury' Gladstone vaults? Perhaps, if you're one of the lucky ten to find a Cadbury golden key, you will learn the truth. The rest of us will just have to take it on trust.

No "secret" but very sweet...

© 2011 RedElf


RedElf (author) from Canada on May 09, 2018:

Thanks, Peggy. I'm all for any company that puts some of their profits back into the communities that could use a boost.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 08, 2018:

I love it that they are spending some of their profits to outfit bicycles so that children in Africa can get to school. Thanks for telling us about that and more.

RedElf (author) from Canada on January 30, 2012:

I have always thought the Caramilk process quite wonderful, regardless of the hype :D

sabrani44 on January 30, 2012:

Awesome hub, really interesting to see the Caramilk bar process. Its a pretty ingenious idea if you thing about it. Thanks for sharing!

RedElf (author) from Canada on August 30, 2011:

Hey, Sunnyglitter, we can go "halvesies" on the one with the golden key :D

Sunnyglitter from Cyberspace on August 30, 2011:

I really want a candy bar after reading this. :)

RedElf (author) from Canada on August 12, 2011:

Thanks so much, Enelle. So glad you approve of my answer to your most excellent question. :D

Enelle Lamb from Canada's 'California' on August 12, 2011:

What a great hub! I'll take this "internet answer" as being the "truth and nothing but the truth..." Besides...the odds of me getting one of those keys is too great to calculate LOL!

...And I loved the commercials :D

RedElf (author) from Canada on August 09, 2011:

Oh, dang, I left out Crispy Crunch - another favorite - and Chicken Bones! Thanks, Sally!

Truckstop Sally on August 06, 2011:

Very tasty hub! I like a little crunch in my candy . . . but to each his own! Very informative and organized hub!

RedElf (author) from Canada on August 02, 2011:

You are so welcome, friend Hh. It was a lot of fun to research this one.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on August 01, 2011:

Anything with caramel I just love it. Thank you for all this interesting information.

RedElf (author) from Canada on July 24, 2011:

Greetings, Paradise7! We all learned something new today!

Jeannieinabottle, I love the little chocolate ones :D I think I may have to join you in your chocolate search!

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on July 24, 2011:

My mouth was watering just reading this hub. I LOVE Cadbury Eggs. It is true - part of what makes the Cadbury Egg so wonderful is the limited availability. I wait so long just to get to February when those beautiful Cadbury Eggs hit the store shelves again. Great hub! Now I must go find some chocolate!

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on July 24, 2011:

A hub full of goodies! I like the Cadbury chocolate bars. I didn't know that about Jeremy Brett's mother, either.

RedElf (author) from Canada on July 23, 2011:

It seems only sensible to me, Flora, but who am I to question a forty-year-old secret :D I had no idea about Jeremy Brett's mother - what fun. We always buy peanut-free factory-safe bars at Halloween or to share for kids' snacks.

FloraBreenRobison on July 23, 2011:

That is exactly how I assumed that the bars were made-that is how I would make them. Did you know that Sherlock Holmes actor Jeremy Brett's mother was one of the Cadburys?

I love Hersheys, Caromilk, Coffee Crips, Kit Kat, and Areo. I particularly love buying Nestle packages because they are made at a non-peanut factory-safe for all

RedElf (author) from Canada on July 23, 2011:

Caramilk is one of my all-time favorites, next to Mars Bars and Aero Bars. Thanks so much drbj - so pleased you enjoyed the hub!

drbj and sherry from south Florida on July 23, 2011:

I've tasted Cadbury chocolate bars before, Elle, but never a Caramello. Now you know I'm going to have to give that treat a try after your delectable, delicious, delightful, decadent, delicious description.

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