Delectable new confection from CW reveals America's 18th-century sweet tooth
Inspired by some of America’s earliest patriots, Colonial Williamsburg has introduced a tasty new product in its gift shops and select stores in the Historic Area – a rebellious selection of decadent 18th-century style chocolate bars destined to undermine 21st-century efforts at carb counting. Crafted by Herbert Candies in conjunction with Colonial Williamsburg’s renowned products program, each bar retails for $1.50 and is available in five delectable flavors: milk chocolate, milk chocolate with caramel, milk chocolate and almond butter crunch, dark chocolate and dark chocolate with almonds.
Throughout the 18th century, increasing global trade opportunities brought exotic goods such as tea, coffee and chocolate to the West, extending consumer choices for the palate as well as the plate, and leading to the development of important new social rituals such as afternoon tea with all of the amenities. Because of its scarcity, cost and distinctive flavor, chocolate quickly became a fundamental part of these newly adopted social conventions, particularly for the elite social classes.
“So far, the milk chocolate with caramel is the front runner in terms of sales,” said Debbie Salisbury, Colonial Williamsburg’s director of merchandising. “I have to admit, it’s my personal favorite as well.”
The candy bar wrapper provides intriguing trivia about how 18th-century Americans satisfied their desire for sweets, noting that colonial Virginians drank their chocolate instead of eating it. In fact, Lord Botetourt, the Royal Governor and Britain’s supreme representative in the colony of Virginia, is known to have kept 24 pounds of chocolate under lock and key in an upstairs closet at the Governor’s Palace.
In keeping with what was clearly an early American sweet tooth, Colonial Williamsburg periodically offers a popular special program, “Secrets of the Chocolate Maker.” This activity, which is part of Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways interpretation of 18th-century cooking practices, is held in the Governor’s Palace Kitchen and invites guests to see how chocolate was made, from the grinding of cocoa beans and formation of chocolate patties to the grating of chocolate into a fine powder.