Chocolate During World War 2
By Yuvika Goel
While most of us know of Chocolate as an indulgent, delicious confection, very few of us know about the historic use of chocolate as an emergency ration – “military chocolate”.
During world war 2, the US army was looking for a lightweight, nutritious, high-energy snack for its soldiers, and eventually turned to the chocolate manufacturer – Hershey’s.
In 1937, the US army approached Hershey’s to produce a special chocolate bar for its emergency ration. Hershey’s chief chemist recalls 4 conditions that the US representative put forward regarding the creation of the bar:
Should weigh 4 ounces (approximately 113 grams)
Should be high in energy
Should be able to withstand high temperatures
Should “taste a little better than boiled potato”
The reasoning behind the 4th condition was that, if the bar was delicious, soldiers would want to eat it even during non-emergency situations, which would defeat its purpose of an “emergency” ration.
The bars were put to use on June 6, 1944, when the Allies carried out the D-day invasion. 160,000 troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, carrying the “D ration bars” for consumption during and after the mission. But they were far from a sweet treat. Most soldiers who ate them claimed that they would rather eat boiled potatoes. The brick of oat flour, chocolate, cocoa butter, sugar, and skim milk powder was dense and bitter. Hershey’s had designed the bar to withstand high temperatures, but this in turn had made it nearly impossible to bite into. As a result, men had to shave slices off the bars before chewing them. Due to these reasons, some of these bars ended up in the trash. Hershey’s then produced newer versions including the Tropical bar (specially designed to withstand the high temperatures of the Pacific), Aircraft snack ration (providing extra energy on long flying missions), and the Prisoner of War Package (supplied to those of the American fighting forces who had fallen into enemy hands)
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Butler, Stephanie. “How Hershey’s Chocolate Helped Power Allied Troops During WWII.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 6 June 2014, http://www.history.com/news/hersheys-chocolate-allied-d-day-rations-wwii.
Intern Sean Jacobson, October 24. “‘Chocolate Is a Fighting Food!” – Chocolate Bars in the Second World War.” National Museum of American History, 11 Mar. 2020, americanhistory.si.edu/blog/chocolate-bars-second-world-war.
“Serving Our Country: Hershey Chocolate’s Contributions to World War II.” Hershey Community Archives, hersheyarchives.org/encyclopedia/serving-the-country-hershey-chocolates-contributions-to-wwii/.