Saturday, March 07, 2009

Ye Olde Chocolate

When you think about the history of chocolate, what comes to mind? For most people, it might be European chocolates, or perhaps the discovery of cacao by the Aztecs. But wait, my friends! Did you know that colonial America has a rich chocolate heritage? No? Neither did I. Of course, most of my knowledge of American history comes from "Little House on the Prairie," and I don't recall Half Pint ever eating chocolate. I know Willy and Nellie were always sneaking their paws into the store's glass jars of treats, but I think they were more like taffy or hard candies, if I remember correctly. But Mars is launching a "scholarly pursuit" to understand everything there is to know about chocolate and so, without further ado, I introduce you to the American Heritage Chocolate brand.
I was sent these little chocolate "sticks" as a taste test and, according to the press release, "Old-world chocolate has a distinct texture and taste with sometimes a hint of other flavors such as ginger, mustard or pepper."
The packaging made it look like something you'd buy in the gift shop of a historic site. Here in New England, every grade school child goes on a field trip to Sturbridge Village. I could imagine seeing these in the gift shop, next to the reproduction Horn Books and bags of marbles.
I was a little scared to try it, especially since it looked so much like a stick of brown chalk. But it wasn't bad. Less sweet than the chocolate we have today, and more crumbly. I didn't get the spicy notes they mentioned; instead, I found that there was a residual fruity taste, not unlike a piece of Juicyfruit gum. At first, I was unclear as to whether this American Heritage Chocolate would be for sale or if this was a press-only thing. But then I went to their website,, and found out that yes, they will be selling it in blocks, sticks and drink mix at-- guess where?-- historic site gift shops! Somebody did a good job with the packaging.

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