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

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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!

The Last Meals of the Damned: Part One


It seems that the Gods are smiling upon on me, albeit in a rather morbid fashion. Last night, I posted on our Facebook Page that today’s post would involve criminals. As this post title ever so subtly suggests, I’m going to discuss the last meals of some well known criminals.

This morning I was scouring the news headlines and one of the top stories was about Gary Simmons Jr, a recently executed inmate who requested an impressive 29,000 calories worth of food for his final meal. According to MSN news, the meal included “…two Pizza Hut pizzas (one a double portion), almost 6 pounds of cheese, 80 ounces of ranch dressing, a family-sized bag of Doritos, two strawberry milkshakes, 40 ounces of Cherry Coke, a supersized McDonald’s fries and two pints of strawberry ice cream.” Considering that many inmates have had far less extravagant meal requests denied, I found this rather astounding, and admittedly, impressive.

I felt that stumbling across this article was a sign to continue with my morbid post. So let’s dig in.

Have you met Ted?

Ted Bundy:
American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist and necrophile. He confessed to committing thirty murders between 1974 and 1978, but the true total is probably far higher. He is well-known for decapitating his victims and keeping the heads as trophies, as well as performing sexual acts on decomposed corpses.

Charges: Bundy was put on trial three times. During the first he was convicted of two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder, and two counts of burglary. The second and third trials gave him the same conviction – one count of first degree murder. The result? He was handed the death penalty three times.

Interestingly, Bundy shocked the court by marrying a witness for the defense during the proceedings of the third trial. During questioning, the two exchanged vows and, according to Florida law, a verbal promise made under oath is enough to make it legally binding.

Execution: Death by electrocution on January 24 1989

Last Meal: Medium rare steak, eggs over easy, hash browns, toast with jelly (jam for us non-Americans), milk and Juice. This is the standard meal given to inmates if they decline a last meal request.

Military Man turned Terrorist. God bless America.

Timothy McVeigh
Perpetrator of the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 that killed 168 people and injured over 800. He claims that it was a retaliation for the WACO Siege, as well as other government raids and US foreign policy in general.

Charges: Conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, use of a weapon of mass destruction, destruction by explosives and eight counts of first-degree murder. The state of Oklahoma didn’t file charges for the additional 160 deaths due to being given the death penalty in his first trial.

Execution: Death by Lethal injection in Indiana, June 11 2001.

Last Meal: Two pints of mint chocolate chip Ben & Jerry’s icecream. I can honestly say that I’m on board with this choice.

No one who speaks German could be an evil man. Parole granted.

Adolf Eichmann
Senior Nazi official as well as one of the key organizers of the Holocaust. His main role was facilitating and managing the logistics of mass deportations of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps. He managed to escape Germany after the fall of the Nazis and had been in hiding until his capture in 1960 in Argentina.

Charges: Crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership of an outlawed organization.

Execution: Death by hanging in Israel, 1962

Last Meal: A bottle of Carmel, which is a dry Israeli wine. I think there was a great deal of wisdom in this choice. I would certainly rather be tanked than sober whilst facing the noose.


This is why I’m scared of clowns

John Wayne Gacy
American serial killer and rapist. He sexually assaulted and murdered at least thirty-three young men and boys between 1972 and 1978. Disturbingly, he became known as the Killer Clown due to his involvement in fundraising events, parades and children’s parties where he would dress up as a clown. Terrifying.

Charges: Thirty-three counts of first degree murder, sexual assault and taking indecent liberties with a child.

Execution: Death by lethal injection in Illinois, May 10 1994.

Last Meal: 12 fried shrimp (prawns), a bucket of original recipe KFC chicken, fries,and one pound of strawberries.

Fun Fact: Gacy managed three KFC restaurants prior to his conviction.

“I’m a happy-go-lucky scamp!”

Saddam Hussein
I think we all know who Saddam was, so I’ll keep the mini bio simple. He was the fifth president of Iraq and a well-known dicktator. Yes, I did spell that correctly.

Charges: Crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

Execution: Death by hanging in Iraq, December 26 2006.

Last Meal: A rather bland serving of chicken, rice and hot water with lemon.

So there you have it, a small taste of the final meals of some of the world’s most notorious murderers. As the title suggests, it’s only the first in a series of grisly posts, so stay tuned for part two. I’ll also be writing a sister series on the last meals of celebrities and important figures from history.

See you all next time.