Colonial Williamsburg® The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Official History and Citizenship Website

Page content
Reset text sizeResize text larger

December 12, 2008

CW Historic Foodways staff share secrets of the 18th-century chocolate makers

Historic Foodways journeyman Jim Gay will demonstrate how chocolate was made in the 18th century on Tuesdays, Jan. 6, Feb. 3 and March 3. The Jan. 6 program will be held at the Randolph House Kitchen and the remaining programs will be held at the Governor’s Palace Kitchen.

Gay re-creates the chocolate-making process of colonial kitchens by roasting cocoa beans, shelling them and crushing them in a large mixing bowl. Using a heated grinding stone and an iron rolling pin, the beans are ground into a liquid and mixed with sugar and spices. Gay has been featured in a special collector’s edition of “Paula Deen’s Christmas” and on “Paula’s Best Dishes” on the Food Network.

In the 18th-century capital of Virginia, chocolate was made primarily to be served as a hot beverage, the drink of choice to pair with breakfast. Chocolate, along with coffee and tea, was considered a “necessity” in the colonies and could be found everywhere in the 18th century.

In 2001, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways staff premiered a program called “Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” in the Governor’s Palace kitchen. It was the first regularly scheduled historic chocolate making program in North America using original recipes and equipment. Members of the Foodways staff are now internationally recognized authorities on historic chocolate in North America. Over the years, this program has been presented in magazines, the Food Network, colleges, museums and even the National Academy of Sciences. The chocolate produced is as close to the original 18th-century product as can be produced in the modern age.

“The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” was the inspiration for Colonial Williamsburg and Mars Incorporated to create “American Heritage Chocolate” products. The “American Heritage Chocolates” may be purchased at the Craft House, Tarpley’s Store, Greenhow Store, Raleigh Tavern Bakery and WILLIAMSBURG Revolutions in Colonial Williamsburg’s Visitor Center. The colonial chocolate may be purchased as an authentic chocolate drink mix or chocolate sticks or bars to be melted into a hot beverage or enjoyed on the spot. The American Heritage line also is sold at Historic Deerfield, Fort Ticonderoga, Mount Vernon, Monticello and Fortress Louisbourg.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121