It’s said that honey has no expiry date; pots uncovered in ancient Egyptian tombs are routinely found to be perfectly edible after thousands of years underground. Would that the same held for another sweet treat, chocolate! If it did, a bar of the stuff recently found in Norfolk, UK would have quite the sugar high to go with its amazing story.
This particular goodie was made to cheer troops in the 1899 – 1902 Boer War and was recently found among the mementoes of centenarian Frances Greathead, the daughter of English soldier and baronet Henry Edward Paston-Bedingfield, by the staff of the National Trust. The original packaging and Paston-Bedingfield’s bar itself were completely intact (though unappetizingly dusty), turning this humble snack into a time capsule from 121 years ago! With a decidedly political aftertaste: The half-pound bar came in a tin with Queen Victoria’s portrait on it and included messages from the monarch to her troops engaged in one of the colonial endeavours that marked her long reign. Intrigue followed its production at home as well.
“British confectionery giants Cadbury, Fry and Rowntree manufactured chocolate batches in 1900 to boost morale for soldiers fighting in the Second Boer War in South Africa, although it’s not certain which company made this particular tin. […]
[National Trust curator Lynsey] Coombs said Cadbury, Fry and Rowntree initially refused to brand the chocolate because they were pacifist Quakers who opposed the war in South Africa.
Eventually they caved to Queen Victoria’s request and produced 100,000 tins, many of which the soldiers preserved, she added.”
And the historical organization will continue to preserve it, reporting it has wrapped the bar in acid-free paper, pending future display along with the helmet and helmet case in which the chocolate was found.
It’s in honour of Easter that we bring you this tale of a chocolatey treat, that has experienced its own resurrection of sorts. Here’s hoping the little ones in your life have found all the chocolate the Easter Bunny left this weekend… Something tells me finding a grody old Kinder Egg under the couch in July won’t be as welcome a discovery!