Sweet gestures: Meet the brands using candy to change lives

By Natasha Spencer-Jolliffe

- Last updated on GMT

Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter Layla Andrews and her mum Karen helped launch Cadbury's Memory Bar Boxes. Image credit: Mondelēz International
Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter Layla Andrews and her mum Karen helped launch Cadbury's Memory Bar Boxes. Image credit: Mondelēz International

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Thoughtful charity collaborations from Cadbury, Swizzels and Tony Chocolonely’s are helping raise funds and awareness for UK causes by leveraging their unique relationship with confectionery consumers. Here’s how

Cadbury has partnered with leading dementia charity Alzheimer’s Research UK to bring back its classic packaging designs for chocolate shoppers’ favourite, Cadbury Dairy Milk.

“The nostalgic Memory Bar Boxes have been created in response to requests for old Cadbury packaging to help stimulate conversation and support memory activities for people living with dementia and their loved ones,” says Susan Nash, trade communications manager at Mondelēz International, the company that owns Cadbury. “Cadbury believes that memories should last a lifetime, but for many, this is sadly not the case,” she says. “That’s why, as we mark 200 years of being part of the nation’s shared memories, we’re partnering with Alzheimer’s Research UK to support its mission to find a cure for dementia and help those memories live longer.”

Recollecting sweet memories with Cadbury

Over the years, Cadbury shoppers have asked for the brand’s retro packaging and archive material to be reinstated to support memory and communication activities in older people.

“We wanted to answer special requests that had been coming from care homes, dementia support groups and members of the public for nostalgic Cadbury wrappers and posters, which could provide a sense of comfort and connection to those living with dementia,” says Elise Burditt, senior marketing director at Cadbury.

The Memory Bars are packaged in a memory box and feature a digital download link. This allows users to access extra content, including classic posters and past packaging from other Cadbury products.

Working with Alzheimer's Research

Together, the duo had a big goal for this year’s Dementia Action Week​, which took place in the UK from May 13 to 19, 2024. Cadbury and Alzheimer’s Research UK set themselves a target of delivering 3,000 boxes to care homes as well as making 1,000 boxes available for people caring for loved ones at home. With the number of people living with dementia predicted to reach more than 1.6 million​ in 2050 in the UK alone, the charity campaign effort aims to inspire action to improve dementia diagnosis rates.

Alzheimer’s Research UK supporter Layla Andrews and her mum Karen, who is living with dementia, featured in a new film to launch the Memory Bar Boxes. Making time to connect is an important part of the mother and daughter’s lives. “That is why this campaign from Cadbury is so important, as it gives us and others the opportunity to reflect on our shared memories over the years,” Andrew says.

“They are such a special way for people with dementia and their loved ones to reminisce together, and we’re delighted that thousands of people will benefit from them,” says Samantha Benham-Hermetz, executive director of policy and communications at Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Reminiscing ​– backed by science

“One activity which has been suggested as being beneficial to people living with dementia, as well as carers, is Reminiscence Therapy, which involves discussing memories and past experiences using tangible prompts such as photographs or nostalgic items to evoke memories and to stimulate conversation,” she says.

In 2022, researchers explored the value of reminiscence therapy ​in patients with dementia. They found it is a useful non-drug-based tool that can help people with dementia recall prior events, activities and experiences to improve their cognitive, mood, and overall wellbeing.

Cadbury and Alzheimer Research UK’s Memory Bar Boxes may prompt reminders of nostalgic experiences and tap into the benefits of reminiscence therapy.

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Confectionery and charity collaborations

Cadbury isn’t the only big brand teaming up with charities to launch new products or campaigns that boost brand awareness, sweet sales and social issues.

In April 2024, the Alzheimer’s Society partnered with confectionery manufacturer Swizzels and retail store One Stop to launch wearable pins inspired by its famous sweet brand, Love Hearts. The six Love Hearts pin badges are available to consumers throughout May and June for £1 each, with 25p of each sale donated to the leading dementia charity.

Raising money to fight poverty was at the heart of Tony Chocolonely’s collaboration with ​the charity Oxfam. Ahead of the 2023 edition of the big-name music festival Glastonbury, the chocolatier released a new limited-edition Glastonbury X Tony’s Chocolonely bar in its best-selling milk caramel sea salt flavour.

Meanwhile, specialist confectionery retailers are giving back too. Health store Holland and Barrett, which stocks sweet treats, ​joined forces with leading poverty-focused charity Comic Relief earlier in 2024. Other retailers have in-house community giving projects too that give to charitable causes. Whole Foods Market, which stocks a range of confectionery items, has established its Whole Planet Foundation charity.

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