2nd August 2012 was the day of Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi. This is a religious festival to celebrate the relationship between brothers and sisters. It’s observed all over India and the central ceremony involves the tying of a sacred thread [Rakhi] by a sister on her brother’s wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. There is a lot of attendant symbolism attached to this act of tying a Rakhi. Raksha Bandhan is also followed by Muslims and with today’s commercialism, Raksha Bandhan cuts across communal barriers. It is common to give the brother some sweets along with the Rakhi. It’s also common for a brother to give sweets to the sister who tied the Rakhi on his wrist. Needless to say manufacturers of sweets regard this day as a sort of manna from heaven.
Cadbury the confection manufacturer has been steadily building one of its advertising campaigns around this theme. Naturally on 2nd August 2012 the campaign went into overdrive and the morning’s newspapers had a very expensive glossy page inserted which caught my attention.
The page advertised the `Rich Dry Fruit Collection’ of chocolates by Cadbury and the first chocolate named was “Rum ‘N’ Raisin”. On seeing this I choked on my coffee, nearly fell of my chair and had to take a few deep breaths to bring my pounding heart back to normal. I could not believe what I was reading. “Rum ‘N’ Raisin” chocolates being advertised in the national newspapers? What was the world coming to? Where was ACP Vasant Dhoble?
“Rum ‘N’ Raisin” chocolate being sold to children? “Rum ‘N’ Raisin” chocolate being promoted as a gift on a sacred occasion when alcohol is not served? Most Hindus and Muslims don’t drink, children should not drink and here we have a “Rum ‘N’ Raisin” chocolate? What is going on I thought? I needed to investigate and get to the bottom of this. So off I went to the neighbourhood grocer and got myself a bar of “Rum ‘N’ Raisin” chocolate.
I looked at the list of ingredients, and the first thing I saw was that the chocolate is vegetarian as indicated by the green dot enclosed in a green square. The list of ingredients revealed sugar, cocoa butter, milk solids, cocoa solids, emulsifiers and raisins. No rum! The wrapper helpfully informed me that the chocolate also had some flavours. But no rum! So then why is Cadbury allowed to call this chocolate “Rum ‘N’ Raisin” if it contains no rum? Is this not mis-describing something? Is this not some sort of cheating, false representation?
I am scratching my head.
However, there are bright sides to this. Priti Chandriani the poor lady who was arrested and released on bail for selling liquor chocolates may be guilty of violating the Bombay Prohibition Act, but under no circumstances will she be guilty of misrepresentation. She was making liquor chocolates using and containing liquor!
I am sure you have heard of Anna Hazardous publicly flogging men who drank alcohol in his village Ralegan Siddhi. Anna is a puritanical sort of fellow. Anyway, presumably if Priti Chandiriani gave [not sold ] you some of her delicious liquor chocolates when you visited Ralegan Siddhi you were certainly a candidate for a whipping by Anna and his merry men. But if you took slabs of Cadbury “Rum ‘N’ Raisin” chocolates you could be sure that nothing would happen.
I am sure you think I am nuts making such a big deal about this. But mis-description is a serious issue. Cadbury is a part of the giant Kraft Foods conglomerate. Should this sort of false product description be allowed?