Life is like a box of chocolates
To think about the fruits of putting our beliefs into practice.
by Caroline Edwards
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To think about the fruits of putting our beliefs into practice.
Preparation and materials
- You might like to stick the Harvard University research to a real newspaper for authenticity.
You will need a large bar of chocolate and a box of Cadbury's Miniature Heroes chocolates.
You can find a photo of George Cadbury at:
You can find out more about Quakerism at: http://www.quaker.org/
- Enter the assembly munching on a large and obvious chocolate bar – the bigger the better.
- Appearing oblivious to the audience reaction, tell your audience that you recently read the following item in the newspaper:
Researchers at Harvard University in America have carried out experiments that suggest if you eat chocolate three times a month you will live almost a year longer than those who forego such sweet temptation.
But it's not all good news - the Harvard research also suggested that people who eat too much chocolate have a lower life expectancy. Chocolate's high fat content means that excess indulgence can contribute to obesity, leading to an increased risk of heart disease.
But if you can't resist chocolate, at least stick to dark. It's higher in cocoa than milk chocolate and helps to increase levels of HDL, a type of cholesterol that helps prevent fat clogging up arteries.
- Comment that perhaps this should be a lesson to us, as it looks like the old adage of ‘everything in moderation' holds.
- Ask how many students have eaten more than three pieces of chocolate in the last month. A show of hands will probably indicate the majority. Ask how many have eaten three pieces in the last week and then how many in the last 24 hours. Comment that chocolate is clearly one of the most popular foods there - even if it can be harmful to our health.
- Ask if anyone knows where the phrase 'Life is like a box of chocolates' comes from. Of course, it was said by the actor Tom Hanks in his Oscar award-winning portrayal of 'Forrest Gump', in the film of the same name.
- Now produce your box of 'Miniature Heroes' and ask for the assistance of two volunteers who should join you at the front of the assembly.
- Empty the box onto a table in front of the volunteers and tell them you are going to read them a story which contains the names of all the various different chocolates in the box. Whenever they hear one of the names they should grab that particular chocolate and throw it into the audience. Which ever is the fastest gains a point, and the volunteer with the most points gets the remaining chocolates as a prize (you may want another member of staff to adjudicate).
- Here is the passage to be read.
Last night I had a DREAM. I dreamt I was in a field of cows, having a PICNIC. I needed some TIME OUT as I'd been working so hard. The field was near the DAIRY. MILK was being sold there. I bought some, but as I passed the nearest cow its tail began to TWIRL, and a giant cowpat, the colour of CARAMEL, came hurtling out! As I trod in the CRUNCHIE dung, I quietly said to myself, ‘Oh, FUDGE!' Then I woke up.
- Once the pandemonium has died down thank your volunteers and present the winner with his/her booty.
- Tell the audience that the man who founded Cadbury's was more than just a miniature hero. To the people he employed he was an enormous one! Now tell the story of George Cadbury.
- A hundred and fifty years ago, when people built factories they also had to build houses for people who came from the villages to work in the factories. Many factory owners built very small houses, sometimes back to back, which soon became slums. Such factory owners were more concerned with making money than with the well-being of those who worked for them.
- George Cadbury was not like these others, born on 19 September 1839, he was renowned for starting to produce the Cadbury's chocolate that we now know.
- When George and his brother Richard took over the business from their father, business was bad. The public would not drink chocolate. It was too bitter! To remedy this George heard that a Dutch chocolate manufacturer had invented a machine to press out the cocoa butter and 'I went off to Holland without knowing a word of Dutch,' he said, 'saw the manufacturer with whom I had to talk entirely by signs and a dictionary and bought the machine.'
- So it was that in 1866 Cadbury's put on the market the first pure cocoa essence that tasted sweet. Business soon boomed. Tablets of chocolate as well as drinking chocolate were manufactured.
- But George Cadbury cared for more than business. Every Sunday – his one day off - he set off at 6.30 a.m. to take Class 14 in the newly formed Adult School. He took a flower for each member of his class. He described this school as 'a sort of co-operative system of carrying on class where one is our Master, even Christ'. And in true Quaker style, all were treated as equals, though many were down-and-outs. All kinds of Christians joined in. Reading and writing came first on the programme and Bible study followed.
- Each day in the Cadbury factory began with Bible reading and prayers for all. But no one could call the Cadbury brothers hypocrites. Their Christianity never stopped at fine words. In an age when most owners cared little about conditions for their factory-hands, George believed in providing first-class facilities. When the premises became too small, he decided to build a factory in the country. The brothers bought a site a few miles out of Birmingham, which they called 'Bournville'.
- George loved open spaces. He provided football fields, a playground and a garden with a lily pond. Inside, there were warm cloakrooms for drying off wet clothes and a warming cupboard for the workers to heat their own food.
- But working out of town presented transport problems. George decided to buy land round the factory and build a village for his workforce. Every house would have a spacious garden big enough to grow vegetables. Fruit trees were planted and the garden dug over before each new owner moved in. Trees were planted along the wide roads. Later, George Cadbury built schools and a shopping area.
- George Cadbury himself said: ‘Why should an industrial area be squalid and depressing? Why should not the industrial worker enjoy country air without being separated from his work? If the country is a good place to live in, why not to work in?'
- Today Cadbury's has factories all over the world - Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Japan and several countries in Africa. Cadbury's chocolate is sold all over North America and in Europe. Recent developments included new factories in China and Poland.
- Many countries also receive their Cadbury's chocolates straight from Bournville, making it a worldwide success story.
- Finish by saying we owe a lot to people such as these, who had good new ideas and whose sincere Christian beliefs made them care enough for others to want to offer them the best conditions they could.
Oh taste, and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34.8)
Time for reflection
We thank you, Lord,
for the example of those who have learned about you,
and then showed their love for you by caring for others.
Help us to be more like them.
Taste and see the goodness of the Lord
‘Chocolate' by Kylie Minogue
‘Sweet Like Chocolate' by Shanks and Bigfoot