York’s CHOCOLATE Story launches exhibition commemorating the centenary of WWI

Groups can now experience a new exhibition at York’s CHOCOLATE Story commemorating the centenary of World War 1. Showcasing previously unseen artefacts and letters, which provide a fascinating and unique perspective on the conflict, the exhibition will run throughout 2014 at the attraction in York.

Ever since the times of the Aztecs, who drank bitter cocoa to gain strength and energy, cocoa has proved a valuable resource in times of war. The ground-breaking exhibition, however, tells an uplifting story from the Great War through a series of artefacts, exhibits and footage. Through inspiring tales and anecdotes taken from first-hand contemporary accounts and reporting, groups are able to appreciate how the gift of chocolate helped to bolster wartime spirits, both at home and on the frontline. How the city’s famous Quaker chocolate companies offered their support to the war effort and how chocolate manufacturing changed forever after 1918 can also be explored.

Unique Artefacts

Groups are able to uncover a fascinating set of military chocolate tins from WWI, including one of the few surviving Lord Mayor’s chocolate tins which were issued to all citizens of York in active service during the Christmas of 1914. This gesture on behalf of the city’s population elicited something very special: the ‘Chocolate Letters,’ a series of over 250 thank you letters penned by York servicemen in training, in trenches, in prisoner of war camps and at sea. As part of ‘WWI: A Taste of Home,’ groups are able to explore some of these precious artefacts for the very first time. From humour to fear and from pride in service to dreams of returning home to the ‘Old City’, the letters offer a poignant insight into how chocolate functioned as a symbol of a life left behind.
Read an extract of a touching letter from soldier Gunner Henry Bailey from Holgate, York, 11 January 1915, below:
“I feel that I ought to send my very best thanks for the nice box of chocolate I received so unexpectedly […] I am proud to be able to say that I am a York lad and am looking forward to a speedy termination of this Cruel War. I shall prize the box as long as God spares me.”

Groups will also be able to listen to never before exhibited voice recordings detailing the background and experiences of York servicemen who survived the War and see precious film footage of the Yorkshire regiments marching to war.
In almost all aspects of life, the War was a catalyst for change. This was no less the case with the great chocolate companies of York; artefacts and photographs from the period bring this vividly to life. The exhibition will follow the wartime story of the Rowntree’s company, ever troubled by reconciling its Quaker ethics with the rising tide of market competition, as changes in production methods, workforce and supplies of raw ingredients lead to a fundamental shift in the production and consumption of chocolate both during and after the War.

Key products from the pre and post-war era will be displayed, from the luxurious and bespoke chocolate boxes of the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, to the rise of the first ‘mass market’ chocolate bars in the 1920s and 1930s. Highlights include a unique bespoke chocolate box made by the Rowntree’s factory in 1910 for a wealthy patron, one of the very first Aero Bars and Special Edition Coronation Chocolate Crisp bar from 1937.

Although the War changed many things, ‘A Taste of Home’ also offers a reminder that the ethical stance of the Quaker companies of York is not entirely lost. The exhibition will conclude with the chance to find out what York’s CHOCOLATE Story is doing to support the city’s chocolate heritage, including working with suppliers to ensure that our chocolate has an ethical and sustainable future.

For further media information please call Laura Good, 01904 527721 or email lgood@continuum-group.comNotes to editors:

To find out more visit www.yorkschocolatestory.com

The following prices are valid for pre-booked groups of 15 or more people until 31/01/2015*

Adult            £7.65
Child (age 4-15)    £6.25
Students        £7.00
Senior Citizen    £7.00

* Please note: prices may vary according to season and special events packages.

To make a booking please contact us directly by emailing groups@continuum-group.com or by telephoning 0845 070 6255, you can also use our online booking form to make a reservation.

The attraction is open daily from 10am – 6pm (last tour 5pm). Closed on 25th December and 1st January.

The attraction is divided into three key zones for visitors:
Story Zone – the journey begins thousands of years ago in the rainforests of Central America and continues through the history of chocolate’s founding families and the fascinating facts behind their finest creations.

Factory Zone – learn how a simple cocoa bean is transformed into the finest chocolate, and take a look at the history of York’s most iconic chocolate brands. Then master the secrets of the chocolatier, as you create hand-made chocolates for yourself, before seeing how the experts do it.

The Indulgence Zone – put new knowledge into practice and choose from a selection of chocolate drinks and treats in the Chocolate Café and Shop.For further media information please call Laura Good, 01904 527721 or email lgood@continuum-group.com

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