Chocolate as a Weapon of War During WW2
Surprisingly, chocolates can help an army achieve victory. That was what happened in WW2, particularly during the invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord. This article looks closer at the role of Hershey’s chocolate bars in the defeat of Hitler’s Germany.
During WW2, the US military was concerned with keeping soldiers well-fed throughout the war. A hungry army cannot fight at its best. Therefore, maintaining a steady supply of food was critical for victory – and a weapon against the enemy. But situations on the frontline could make delivery of food supplies difficult or even impossible. And soldiers could not be expected to lug large quantities of food while confronting the enemy, since doing that would fatigue and wear them out pretty quickly. So, the US military dreamed up a great idea. However, not one the soldiers would find appealing, and Captain Paul P. Logan of the US Army Quartermaster Corps would visit the Hershey Chocolate Company to implement the idea.
The military wanted Hershey to produce food for soldiers to carry along, and they had conditions for the taste. The food must feel light to carry, highly nutritious and provide soldiers with lots of energy. And the food should taste a little better than a boiled potato. Why make it taste so bad? Because soldiers wouldn’t want to eat it for fun. That way, they only eat it when they’re hungry.
Hershey came up with a chocolate formula that perfectly met these conditions. It was dubbed the D Ration Bar, comprising a mix of cocoa butter, powdered milk, oat flour, chocolate, and sugar. And it weighed just 113g, had a high energy value, could withstand high temperatures, and tasted only slightly better than a boiled potato. Quite unfortunate for the US soldiers of that time – I mean the taste, but was mighty good for their body and ability to sustain combat operations for long hours.
Many soldiers who took it said they would prefer a boiled potato. A combination of fat and oat produced very dense chocolate with a bitter taste. Sugar was added only to balance the bitterness. Most soldiers had to grate the chocolate into smaller pieces before chewing it because the chocolates were pretty hard due to the temperature-resistant composition, and most of them ended up in the trash after the war.
Soldiers were given a variety of food, including candy, processed cheese, sugar, chewing gum, coffee, instant beverages, canned meat, and even cigarettes. But the chocolate, despite tasting horrible, was the most vital food as it provided the soldiers with a boost of energy in the most critical times. Thankfully, today, chocolates aren’t all doom and gloom, and you can read more about various chocolates here at the Academy of Chocolate.
The Hershey chocolates at that time played a role in maintaining a healthy fighting soldier, particularly during Operation Overlord, which culminated in the invasion and capture of Normandy. The fall of Normandy to Allied troops was a turning point in the war, and the energy that kept American soldiers moving came mainly from the Hershey Chocolate. That made Hershey’s chocolate a part of America’s weapon during the war. Europeans at the time had never seen such a bar of chocolate, and they didn’t have it either.
Given the vitality of food to every living thing, every army must feed well, especially during a war. The ability to maintain a constant energy boost for soldiers is by itself a weapon because it contributes to victory.