How Chocolate Helped To Win The War

Seventy-five years ago, more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.  And while we all know that day served as a huge turning point for the Allied cause, you probably haven’t thought much about what those soldiers carried with them to eat during and after the invasion.

Food had to be lightweight, nutritious and very high in energy; after all, these men were about to invade Nazi-occupied land.  As it so happens, the one substance that could fulfill all those requirements was a very unlikely it — a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

D ration chocolate bar

The Hershey Chocolate company was approached back in 1937 about creating a specially designed bar just for U.S. Army emergency rations.  According to Hershey’s chief chemist, Sam Hinkle, the U.S. government had just four requests about their new chocolate bars: (1) they had to weigh 4 ounces; (2) be high in energy; (3) withstand high temperatures; (4) “taste a little better than a boiled potato.”

The final product was called the “D ration bar,” a blend of chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk powder and oat flour.  The viscous mixture was so thick, each bar had to be packed into its 4-ounce mold by hand.

As for taste, well – most who tried it said they would rather have eaten the boiled potato.  The combination of fat and oat flour made the chocolate bar a dense brick, and the sugar did little to mask the overwhelmingly bitter taste to the dark chocolate.  Since it was designed to withstand high temperatures, the bar was nearly impossible to bite into.

Troopers had to shave slices off with a knife before they could chew it.  And despite the Army’s best efforts to stops the men from doing so, some of the D-ration bars ended up in the trash.

Tropical chocolate bar

Later in the war, Hershey introduced a new version, known as the Tropical bar, specifically designed for extreme temperatures of the Pacific Theater.  By the end of the war, the company had produced more than 3 billion ration bars.

Soldier with a Tropical bar

But “Hitler’s Secret Weapon”, as many infantrymen referred to the chocolate bar, was hardly the only candy in the D-Day rations.  Candy was an easy way to pep up the troops, and the quick burst of energy provided by sugar was a welcome addition to kit bags.

Along with the D rations, troops received 3 days worth of K ration packs.  These were devised more as meal replacements and not sustenance snacks like the D rations, and came complete with coffee, canned meats, processed cheese and tons of sugar.  The other chocolate companies would soon join in with the production.

Cadbury ration bar

At various points during the war, men could find powdered orange or lemon drink, caramels, chewing gum and of course – more chocolate!!  Along with packs of cigarettes and sugar cubes for coffee, the K ration packs provided plenty of valuable energy for fighting men.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

The Lost 52 Project has located the ‘late and presumed lost’ US submarine, USS Grunion off the Aleutian Islands.  She sunk with 70 crewmen on board during WWII.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader’s Digest ‘Humor In Uniform’

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George Beckwith – Ossipee, NH; US Army, WWII, ETO, US 6th Army / Korea, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Ralph Bennett – Ames, IA; US Army, WWII, CBI, KIA

Lonnie ‘L.D.’ Cook – OK; US Navy, WWII, Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona

Frederick Haberman (100) – Bloomfield, NJ; US Navy, WWII

Claude Honeycutt – Gadsden, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-47 pilot, 34 FS/437 Fighter Group

Roy A. Knight Jr. – Millsap, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Colonel, 602 Special Operations Squadron, KIA

Anthony Lewis Sr. – Watervliet, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John McRoskey – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, Major, 515/13th Airborne

Myron Stone – Tacoma, WA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Harry Walton Sr. – Allentown, PA; USMC, Korea

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 12, 2019, in Home Front, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 174 Comments.

  1. I won a 5 lb Hershey bar in a raffle once. It was built like a brick, and took a hammer to break it into edible pieces. It did taste a lot better than a boiled potato though! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Throw chocolate in the garbage? Oh nooooooo!!
    Hope you are well 🌝

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Dad used to say that in New Guinea they would swap with the yanks — bully beef for chocolate. The Americans liked the saltiness of the bully while the Australians missed sugar. From memory it was at Nadzab during the Lae Ramu valley campaign when the American paratroopers and the Australians met up. He would always speak very highly of those yanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad to hear that the Australians had a high regard for the US soldiers they met. I know I’ve always heard how tough the Aussies were (are) and my research has always backed up that claim. Thanks for letting me know. Perhaps my father traded his back then, he wasn’t one much for sweets.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. No one can fight a war covered in chocolate. This may be our answer to world peace!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Nazis also issues drugs. I forget what it was called but it was likely a form of amphetamine. Thet were high quite often in combat if they popped a couple.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Indeed, the war shaped the entire world. Like literally.

    Thank you for sharing these information. I’m a chocolate lover. I am just in awe that my favorite go to when I’m hungry from my nursing rounds and law school is the same exact thing that kept our heroes going.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. That was a great post! Teaches us about history as well. Now, if you’re looking to see some chcolate and relish it, visit my post. Chocolate https://thoughtsoftharun.wordpress.com/2019/08/20/chocolate/

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Reblogged this on John's Notes and commented:
    I thought that this article was worth sharing. If you find it interesting, you might also like Chocolate Went to War I published a while back.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. As it happens, I just watched “The Food that Built America” on the History Channel. The D ration bar was mentioned. What really took me by surprise was a statement that armies until WWI and WWII had to spend some 60% of their time foraging. That the American food industry was able to provide our troops a reliable supply of rations was a strategic advantage.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great piece of military culinary delights gp, I used to live on local food in Vietnam but one thing I always remember, when possible we could get American rations, I used to love the little round bread rolls that came in a tin, used to toast it over a little hexamine stove, a reminder of toast from homer.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Ersatz indeed, I would have had withdrawals for the real thing, and addiction is an addiction 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I remember reading about the chocolate so we made delicious chocolate a must stop and enjoy some years ago. ♥️👏🍀

    Read: http://www.sheilaclapkin.com

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  13. i’m still supporting
    the effort with
    a bar a week 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Very interesting…must be included in the history of chocolate. I just finished reading “The History of the World in 6 glasses.”

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Fascinating, GP. When I was in Hungary (as part of the Stabilization Force-SFOR), we had access to good food in the dining facility but we were also given the option of MREs. The comedians that came through the base camps called MREs-Meals Rejected by Ethiopians (this was during the 1990s when Ethiopia was going through one of its periodic droughts and starvations) and said the brown wrapper should give you an indication of the contents.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. A really interesting account of a topic that had never occurred to me. It makes me wonder what provision the British had made for emergency rations. I can’t imagine that it was as imaginative as the American solution.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Plus, chocolate would help break the language barrier with the ladies. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Thank you very much for sharing this history.

    Like

  1. Pingback: How Chocolate Helped To Win The War — Pacific Paratrooper – Guam Christian Blog

  2. Pingback: USS Grunion SS-216 – Tombstone Tuesdays August 13, 2019 | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

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