During the tumultuous times of World War 1 and 2, chocolate emerged as a vital part of soldiers’ rations.The humble beginnings of candy bars, as we know them today, can be traced back to the chocolate rations given to European soldiers during World War 1. This introduction sparked a worldwide love for chocolate, which led to the emergence of candy bars in the 1920s. Soldiers, captivated by the comforting taste of chocolate amidst the turmoil of war, brought their newfound preference for this treat back home, increasing the demand for chocolate.
One of the most noteworthy chocolate products developed during this time was the Hershey’s D-Ration bar.This specially designed chocolate bar consisted of cocoa butter, powdered milk, oat flour, chocolate, and sugar. With a focus on the practical needs of soldiers, the D-Ration bar was created to provide maximum energy and withstand high temperatures. This was critical for soldiers who were often in harsh environments where regular food items might spoil. The D-Ration bar thus represented a significant advancement in the provision of food rations for soldiers.
Beyond the simple provision of sustenance, chocolate was chosen as a ration for soldiers due to several other factors. Its high calorie content made it an efficient source of energy, while its caffeine content provided a necessary boost for weary soldiers . Furthermore, its compact size and relative non-perishability made it an ideal food item for soldiers to carry with them. These factors combined to make chocolate an indispensable part of military rations.
However, the increased demand for chocolate for military use had implications for civilians as well.The availability of chocolate on the home front was limited during both wars due to the priority of sending it to soldiers abroad. This rationing had a significant impact on the daily lives of civilians, who had to adjust to the limited availability of this beloved treat. Despite these challenges, the rationing of chocolate was a necessary measure to ensure that soldiers on the front lines had access to this valuable food resource.
In addition to the Hershey’s D-Ration bar, other chocolate products were developed specifically for military use. One such example is the Nestle Ration Chocolate, which was used by British soldiers during World War 2. Similar to the Hershey’s D-Ration bar, this chocolate bar was designed to withstand extreme conditions and provide soldiers with the necessary sustenance to carry out their duties. This further exemplifies the critical role of chocolate as a ration for soldiers during the wars.
Another example of chocolate as a ration for soldiers is the German army’s “Scho-ka-kola” chocolate bar. This highly caffeinated chocolate was developed during World War 2 as a means of providing an energy boost to German soldiers. The combination of caffeine and chocolate made it an effective stimulant for soldiers who needed to stay alert and focused during long hours of combat. The “Scho-ka-kola” bar became a staple in the German soldier’s ration pack and was highly valued for its energizing properties.
Chocolate as a Morale Booster
Beyond its practical role as a ration, chocolate served an equally important role in boosting the morale of soldiers during World War 1 and 2. Amidst the hardships and uncertainties of war, the taste of chocolate provided a comforting reminder of home and a momentary respite from the harsh realities of the battlefield. American soldiers, in particular, developed a strong preference for chocolate during the wars, leading to an increased demand for this sweet treat. This increased demand not only impacted the availability of chocolate but also influenced the types of chocolate products that were produced during this time.
A significant contributor to maintaining the health and morale of soldiers during critical times was Hershey’s chocolate bars. For instance, during Operation Overlord, more commonly known as the D-Day invasion, American troops consumed Hershey’s chocolate bars. These chocolate bars provided soldiers with a much-needed boost of energy that helped them endure the grueling invasion and subsequent capture of Normandy. The success of these operations, which marked a turning point in World War 2, can in part be attributed to the sustenance provided by Hershey’s chocolate bars.
This is not to say that Hershey’s was the only company whose chocolate products played a crucial role in boosting soldier morale. The Mars company, for example, developed the Milky Way bar during World War 2. This nougat-filled chocolate bar quickly became a favorite treat among the troops, providing a moment of sweet respite amidst the turmoil of war.
The role of chocolate in boosting morale extended beyond the battlefield. In prisoner-of-war camps, for example, chocolate was often distributed as a form of comfort and a reminder of home. The taste of chocolate provided a sense of normalcy and helped to alleviate the psychological stress experienced by prisoners. In this way, chocolate became a symbol of hope and solace during times of adversity.
The power of chocolate to boost morale was not lost on military leaders. Recognizing the psychological benefits of chocolate, military commanders often included it in care packages sent to soldiers on the front lines. These packages, which also included items like letters from home and other comforts, were a crucial part of maintaining morale among the troops.
The Emergence of the Candy Bar Industry
The wars sparked a significant increase in the demand for chocolate, leading to the emergence of thousands of small, regional confectioners in the 1920s. These confectioners capitalized on the popularity of candy bars, creating unique products that catered to the tastes of soldiers returning from the front lines. Candy bars were named after popular expressions, pop culture icons, and dance crazes, becoming a form of marketing. This trend was exemplified by Otto Schnering of the Curtiss Candy Company, who popularized the Baby Ruth bar through innovative marketing stunts.
The Great Depression and World War 2 had a significant impact on the candy bar industry. The economic hardships of the Depression and the increased demand for chocolate during the war led to consolidation, with larger manufacturers buying out smaller ones. This consolidation resulted in the dominance of companies like Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle in the candy bar industry after the war. Chocolate production during the war helped pave the way for it to become a mass consumer food in the post-war era.
One example of the emergence of the candy bar industry during World War 2 is the Mars company. In 1941, Forrest Mars Sr., son of the founder of Mars, created the Mars bar as a ration for American soldiers. The Mars bar quickly became a popular treat among soldiers and was later introduced to the civilian market, contributing to the growth of the candy bar industry.
Another significant development in the candy bar industry during World War 2 was the introduction of the M&M’s candy. Forrest Mars Sr. saw the need for a chocolate candy that would not melt in soldiers’ hands, leading to the creation of M&M’s. These sugar-coated chocolates with a hard shell became a staple in soldiers’ rations and were highly valued for their durability. After the war, M&M’s became a popular candy among civilians, further fueling the growth of the candy bar industry.
In conclusion, the demand for chocolate during World War 1 and 2 led to the emergence of the candy bar industry. Small confectioners capitalized on the popularity of candy bars, while larger manufacturers consolidated their power during the economic hardships of the Great Depression and World War 2. Companies like Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle became dominant players in the candy bar industry, thanks to their resources and production capabilities. Additionally, innovations like the Mars bar and M&M’s contributed to the growth of the industry and the mass consumerism of chocolate in the post-war era.