Cadbury Chocolate Fish

All Kiwis understand the expression ‘that person deserves a chocolate fish.’ The recipient of a chocolate fish is in no doubt of the sincerity of the thanks they received. 


We can start with Richard Hudson who arrived in Dunedin in 1868 and started a bakehouse. In 1884, he established the first chocolate manufacturing plant in the southern hemisphere. In the early 1930s, Hudsons merged with Cadbury.

The first use of a chocolate fish for a reward for ‘a job well done’ may have been in the Evening Post of the 26 September 1933 reporting 20 dancers who were rewarded with large chocolate fish. 

In 1973, the Victoria University Tramping Clubs newsletter gave the reward of a chocolate fish for anyone who could sing all the way to the hut. 

The chocolate fish was entrenching itself into the haloed halls of Kiwiana. 


In the 1980s, political party McGillicuddy Serious Party wanted a chocolate fish in every New Zealander's pocket (or hand bag) by putting forward a policy to establish the chocolate fish as legal tender.

At the turn of this century Margaret Sikes, University of Otago manager of post graduate office used her own money to purchase chocolate fish as a ‘gift of significance’ to students when they submitted their PhD thesis. This tradition was continued by Dr Charles Justin who upgraded the marshmallow fish to a solid chocolate hand-made Belgium chocolate fish. 

Although there have been many ‘species’ of chocolate fish for sale in NZ, the market has been dominated by Cadbury’s marshmallow fish with a thin shell of wavy chocolate to mimic scales (this is achieved by an air blast on the chocolate as it starts to set).