• The story behind Cadbury Australia's chocolate is surprisingly relaxing. (SBS)Source: SBS
I was surprised at how relaxing it was to count the number of chocolate Easter bunnies as they passed, being packaged in silver and purple foil by robotic arms.
Samuel Leighton-Dore

7 Apr 2020 - 9:48 AM  UPDATED 8 Apr 2020 - 9:56 AM

It's going to be an unusual Easter, considering all the challenging adjustments many of us are making due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite rising levels of anxiety and supermarket stockpiling chaos, chocolate Easter eggs and Cadbury bunnies are still lining the supermarket shelves, albeit with added medical masks (in some cases).

So it's only appropriate that SBS's Slow TV phenomenon is turning to chocolate and its soothing qualities at this time. 

Following in the steps of last year's The Ghan: Australia’s Greatest Train Journey, The Chocolate Factory: Inside Cadbury Australia takes us on a meandering journey through the zen sugarcane fields of Mackay, right into the chocolate factories of Melbourne, where viewers are treated to the ASMR-like qualities of liquid chocolate being slowly poured into moulds.

For those who are only just learning about Slow TV, it first found popularity with Scandinavian audiences back in 2009, and has since become a bit of an international phenomenon.

Seen by some as an ideal antidote to our 'sped up' culture of busyness, Slow TV encourages viewers to practice mindfulness, asking them to sit and consciously watch a program that both relaxes and educates over a number of hours.

At a time when more Australian families than ever are spending their days at home, SBS's The Chocolate Factory could help parents and children alike take a break from Bluey re-runs or Frozen DVD marathons - encouraging those of us with anxiety to minimise the amount of time we spend multi-tasking while watching TV.

According to Deloitte’s 2018 survey on multi-tasking, 91 per cent of us were already multi-tasking while watching TV before COVID-19 (up from 79 per cent in 2014), with Australian audiences becoming increasingly passive consumers of digital media.

All the more reason to slow your brain down learning about the many stages involved in making chocolate; the long journey from paddock to farm; the sugar being harvested from neatly sanctioned crops in Queensland, the milk being bottled in spacious Tasmanian Dairy Farms; the cocoa being imported from the vast fields of Ghana; the way each of the ingredients is carefully blended together in Melbourne, landing gently on a conveyor belt as Cadbury Australia's beloved chocolate.

Mackay's Racecourse sugar mill has a starring role, being  one of Australia's oldest, and playing an integral role in the production of Cadbury Australia's chocolate.

It also has an interesting history, which is made all the more enjoyable by the early morning scenery it's transposed on. Opened in 1889, Racecourse Mill was constructed largely by Maltese immigrants - which is precisely why Mackay is now home to the largest Maltese community in regional Australia.

As someone who has no real interest in farming, I was surprised at how captivating I found The Chocolate Factory; how much fun it was to lose myself in the fields of North Eton in QLD, which only has a population of 186 people; how relaxing I found it to watch a tractor slowly tilling a sugar farm, or count the number of chocolate Easter bunnies as they passed, being packaged in silver and purple foil by robotic arms.

Watching TV might not feel like a normal way to cope with anxiety, but, as the news keeps reminding me, these are not normal times.

The Chocolate Factory: Inside Cadbury Australia premieres Saturday April 11 on SBS at 7:30pm. The program will be encored Sunday April 12 on SBS VICELAND at 3:35pm. Join the conversation on social #SlowTV

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