Chocolate at War!


I bet that caught everyone’s attention!

Today we’ll be continuing Choctoberfest with a look at the role of chocolate during wartime. Interestingly enough, I don’t mean chocolate on the Homefront. This is purely an insight into how chocolate played a role in the US military during wartime. Pretty cool, huh?

Strangely,  Hershey’s have produced more than just their signature Kisses and crazy delicious Cookies and Cream Bars in the past. In fact, they’ve been heavily involved in providing rations for soldiers since before WWII .

Hershey’s involvement with the production of military rations began when Army Quartermaster Captain Paul Logan met with William Murrie, President of Hershey’s Chocolate, in April 1937. This visit resulted in the experimental production of a ration bar which would meet the needs of troops during wartime.

Unfortunately, ordinary chocolate bars melt far too easily in the summer heat, and therefore wouldn’t be viable for a soldier to carry around. Furthermore, normal bars were considered to be too tempting to be used as an emergency ration. As such,  Captain Logan outlined strict requirements for the bar, with was to be called The D Ration:

– Weigh four ounces (113.398 grams)
– Able to withstand high temperatures
– High in food energy value/calories
– Taste only marginally better than a boiled potato. Yum.

The D Ration Bar

Unfortunately, the Hershey chemists may have erred too much on the side of un-palatability. The D Ration was almost universally detested, and was often discarded or traded for more appetizing foods from unsuspecting civilians. Troops called the bar “Hitler’s Secret Weapon” due to its effect on soldier’s intestinal tracts. Also, because of how chewy it was, it couldn’t be eaten by soldiers with poor dentition. Even those with good dental work often found it necessary to shave slices off the bar with a knife in order to consume it.

The first of the Field Ration D bars were tested in the Philippines, Hawaii, Panama and at various Army posts throughout the US. The results of the test were satisfactory and Field Ration ‘D’ was approved for wartime use.

In 1939, Hershey was able to produce 100,000 units per day. By the end of 1945, production lines on three floors of the plant were producing approximately 24 million units per week. It has been estimated that between 1940 and 1945, over three billion ration units were produced and distributed to soldiers around the world.

Mmm, appetizing

In 1943, the US Army inquired about the possibility of obtaining a heat resistant bar that didn’t taste like absolute arse. After a short period of experimentation, Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar was added to the list of wartime production items. This bar was destined to replace the D Ration by 1945. In July of 1971, Hershey’s Tropical Bar went to the moon with the Apollo 15 team. Reports state that it was only a slight improvement on the original D Ration bar.

In recognition of its outstanding war effort, Hershey’s was awarded the Army-Navy ‘E’ Production Award in 1942. The Corporation received a flag to fly above the chocolate plant and a lapel pin for every employee. The award was presented for exceeding all production expectations in the manufacturing of an Emergency Field Ration. This wartime honour recognized companies that consistently met high standards of quality and quantity in light of available resources. By the end of WWII, Hershey’s would receive a total of five Army-Navy ‘E’ awards.

Production of the D ration bar was discontinued at the end of WWII. However, Hershey’s Tropical Bar remained a standard ration for the United States Armed Forces. The Tropical Bar saw action in Korea and Vietnam before being declared obsolete.

The only slightly better tasting Tropical Bar

In the late 1980s, the US Army Lab created a new high-temperature chocolate bar that could withstand heat in excess of 60 °C (140 °F). It was dubbed The Congo Bar, and 144, 000 were shipped out to troops during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. While Army spokesmen said that the bar’s taste was good, troop reactions were mixed and the bar was not put into full production.

The Gulf War ended before all bars could be shipped, so the remainder was packaged in a desert camo wrapper and was dubbed the Desert Bar. It proved to be a brief novelty for consumers, but Hershey declined to make more after supplies ran out.

So it seems that chocolate has had quite a significant influence on 20th century militaristic history, even if it wasn’t particularly sweet. In closing, here are a few more interesting wartime facts about chocolate:

Advertisement for the Cadbury Ration Bar

– Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate came off the shelves in 1941 when the government banned manufacturers from using fresh milk. Instead, they released Ration Chocolate, made with dried skimmed milk powder.

– The Nazi’s began producing bombs that were disguised as chocolate bars. A more in-depth look at this amazing story can be found in one of my older posts – Death by Chocolate:  Hitler’s Camouflaged Bomb Plot

Don’t forget that Delicious History is also out there in Social Media realm sharing awesome history-related pics, quotes, facts and such! We can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr.

 

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Famous Last Meals: Part Two


Last Month, I started a series on the last meals of the rich and famous. I’m very excited to continue this after such a long hiatus. My apologies for that by the way, work has been a bit of a nightmare. The good news is that I do in fact still have a job and am thus able to continue funding my internet connection and tea addiction.

With the explanations out of the way, let’s crack on, shall we?

Second Class Passengers of the Titanic
Death – 1912 from a rather pesky iceberg sitting in the middle of the North Atlantic.

In my previous post,  I discussed the rather extravagant final meal of the 1st class passengers. As it turns out, the 2nd class passengers did pretty well for themselves too.

Let’s take a peek at the menu:

Consomme
Tapioca
Baked Haddock with sharp sauce
Curried chicken with rice
Spring lamb with mint sauce
Roast Turkey with cranberry sauce
Green peas
Puree turnips
Boiled rice
Boiled and roast potatoes
Plum pudding
Wine jelly
Coconut sandwich
Ice cream
Assorted nuts
Fresh fruit
Cheese biscuits
Coffee

As far as last meals go, I must say that I’m rather impressed. I’ll be interested to see whether I can uncover the final meal of those in steerage for my next post.

Abraham Lincoln
Death – Assassinated by John Wilkes-Booth in the Presidential Box of Ford’s Theatre in Washington.

Before Old Abe’s literal final curtain (Sorry, I know that was bad), he dined at  the White House on Clear Mock Turtle Soup, roast Virginia fowl with chestnut stuffing, baked yams and cauliflower with cheese sauce.

Jimi Hendrix
Death – 1970 after taking 9 sleeping pills and choking on his own vomit. Delicious.

Uncontested rock God and Woodstock icon, Jimi Hendrix (despite is rather Rock n Roll style death) had a somewhat less than revolutionary final meal before his accidental overdose – a simple tuna sandwich.

JFK
Death – Assassinated in 1963 by a gunshot wound to the head that totally came from the School Book Depository and definitely not from the Grassy Knoll, despite what forensic and video evidence suggests.

JFK’s final breakfast was consumed at a meeting with supporters before his fateful Dallas motorcade. It was supposedly quite typical of the pragmatic President – orange juice, coffee, soft-boiled eggs, bacon, and toast with marmalade.

Hitler
Death – Suicide in 1945, alongside his mistress-turned-wife, Eva Braun. A shot to his temple was the method of choice, whereas his bride of less than 48 hours swallowed a cyanide capsule.

Hitler became a vegetarian after the suicide of his niece, Geli Raubal. On a side note, I highly recommend that you read up on that inappropriate train wreck of a relationship.

Despite often being caught eating meat, Hitler’s final meal adhered to his vegetarian diet. It consisted of a simple vegetable soup with mashed potatoes.

That’ it for now, kids. I promise that with my life settling down a bit there won’t be such large gaps in  between posts. I look forward to throwing more food related history at you soon.

Death by Chocolate – Hitler’s Camouflaged Bomb Plot


A big thanks to Katie for bringing this story to my attention. I majored in WWII History at uni, and my waist line currently majors in chocolate, so this is the perfect topic for me to discuss.

Newly uncovered WWII documents reveal that the Nazis were plotting to assassinate Winston Churchill with a bomb disguised as a chocolate bar. The plan was to coat the explosives with a thin layer of dark chocolate and then package them as ‘Peter’s’ branded chocolate bars. The idea was to have them smuggled into the War Cabinet’s dining room where Churchill and other important members of parliament would often meet. The device was designed to explode seven seconds after being unwrapped, killing everyone within a few metres of the sweet and sugary impact. The theory behind this plot was to exploit the Prime Minister’s weakness for chocolate.

1920’s Peter’s chocolate bar wrapper. Photo courtesy of The Candy Wrapper Archive.

Unfortunately for the Nazis, it wasn’t just their chocolate that was foiled. British spies discovered the plot and quickly warned one of MI5’s most senior intelligence chiefs – Lord Victor Rothschild. He proceeded to alert the nation and advised them to look out for exploding candy bars. He even had an illustrator friend, Laurence Fish, draw up pictures of the bars so he could distribute them amongst the public. Interestingly, Fish’s wife found the correspondence between her husband and Rothschild in 2009. The letter was dated May 4, 1943 and was marked ‘secret’. It detailed the German plot and supposedly included a rather poor drawing of the device by Rothschild.

Suffice to say, with the plot made public, there were no chocolate bombs exploding in parliament.

A little research on my behalf also revealed that chocolate wasn’t the only item that the Nazis were planning on using to disguise explosives. German saboteurs also utilized tinned plums, throat lozenges, shaving brushes, batteries, wood, and my personal favourite – stuffed dogs. I can’t imagine how the latter would even work.

I’d like to finish by thanking everyone who contacted me after my Darrell Lea article. It was incredibly touching and I very much appreciated it.

Have a lovely Thursday!