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Category: Traditional Sweets

  1. The History of Traditional Sweets in 1940s

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    Traditional Sweets in 1940s

    After the declaration of war in September 1939, three groups of food were initially rationed in January 1940; sugar, bacon and butter. This was followed by meat, fish, tea, jam, biscuits, breakfast cereals, cheese, eggs, milk and canned fruit. Many factories were converted into making munitions for the war effort.<blog_break>

    Wartime sweets rationing

    Sweet rationing came into effect in 1942. There was an Allowance of seven ounces (200 gms) for everyone over five years old. This was the equivalent of just one sweet a day for most products in the Woolworth’s range. By the following year, sweets were becoming scarce and even having sufficient coupons was no guarantee that there would be enough sweets in the shops to buy.

    In summer 1940, Cadbury’s were assuring customers that their chocolate biscuits were available in all stores. Three years later, they ran adverts in Picture Post magazine, saying that supplies were severely limited and asking customers to remember that growing children needed the nutrition from milk chocolate the most.

    As raw materials were in short supply, chocolate manufactures were forced to substitute products and improvise ingredients. For instance, Cadbury Dairy Milk as withdrawn in 1941 when the government banned manufacturers from using fresh milk. In its place there was Ration Chocolate, made with dried skimmed milk powder.

    The ration chocolate bar

    In ‘A Child of War’, written in 1987, the author George Macbeth reminisced that sweets were the great loss and had his own firmly held views on the dubious taste of Ration Chocolate.

    ‘There was no longer an everlasting, teeth-spoiling fountain of sherbet and liquorice, or of Boy Blue cream whirls, or of Cadbury's Caramello. Sweets were hard to come by, and then limited to a fixed ration.

    One of the worst casualties was chocolate. The traditional division into milk and plain disappeared, and an awful intervening variety known as Ration Chocolate was born, issued in semi-transparent grease-proof wrappers, and about as appetizing as cardboard. In spite of a lifelong sweet tooth, I could never eat it.’

    What production of chocolate that did occur was strictly on a geographical basis due to transport restrictions and the need to ration petrol supplies. So, if you liked something made by Rowntrees of York and you lived in London then tough luck.

    Chocolate bars on the home front & in the war

    So much for chocolate and the lack of it on the home front. You were more likely to get your hands on a bar of chocolate, however variable its quality, if you were in the army. The US army, to be more precise.  Yes, those WW2 films of Yanks in battledress, chewing gum, and wooing the local land girls with supplies of chocolate and sweets not found in the British shops are largely true.

    However, like some of their other promises, it appears that the chocolate didn’t always live up to expectations…

    D ration chocolate bar

    The “D ration bar”, was a blend of chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk powder and oat flour, made by Hershey. It was an essential part of the emergency rations issued to US troops as part of the D day invasion of the beaches of Normandy. It weighed four ounces (112 grams) with 600 calories, was designed to be high in energy for mobile field operations and was manufactured to withstand high temperatures. Due to the fact that the recipe didn’t allow it to liquefy sufficiently, Hersheys had to design and make special chocolate moulds.

    All of which made it difficult it eat and with a taste that isn’t fondly remembered by most.

    Reports are that the mix of fat and oat flour made the chocolate bar a dense brick, and the sugar could not hide the extremely bitter taste to the dark chocolate. Designed to withstand high temperatures, the bar was difficult to bite into. Soldiers resorted to slicing off shaving of chocolate with their field knife.

    For those of you interested in the actual ratios of ingredients, the formula for a large batch of the D chocolate ration bars, was 160 parts chocolate, not less than 54 percent cocoa fat, 160 parts added cocoa fat, 30 parts oat flour, 20 parts dry powdered skim milk, 70 parts vanillin crystals, and just enough sugar to make it palatable. There also was one-sixth part vitamin B1, which may have been healthy but didn’t add to the overall flavour.

    Chocolate bars had a waxy or greasy taste which may have due, in part to the increase in the melting point from 92 to 120 degrees. Bars came with instructions that they were to be eaten in small quantities over a half hour period, (which was perhaps just as well) or could be dissolved in boiling water.

    In fairness to Hershey, one of the US army’s other stipulations was that the chocolate bar should taste ‘a little better than a boiled potato!’. It seems that the army wanted a bar that didn’t taste so good that it was eaten as a treat and therefore not conserved for emergencies. No wonder US troops used to refer to it as ‘Hitler’s Secret Weapon’.

    However, the combination of ingredients and taste requirements did have one unexpected benefit. The Tropical bar, specially designed to withstand the intense heat of the tropics and the desert, came into its own as practically the only foodstuff that soldiers in the Far East could eat when they were ill with dysentery. 

    The sheer scale of chocolate production for the military is staggering. By war’s end, Hershey had made while around 40.2 million 2-ounce and 4-ounce D Ration bars, and 380 million Tropical Chocolate Bars – that’s a lot of cure for dysentery.

    The war may have ended in 1945 but chocolate and sweet rationing didn’t. It was to be another long eight years until 5 February 1953 before the 12 ounces a month ration was finally abolished. Sugar itself was not de-rationed until September 1953.

    Suddenly, there were more queues but this time without the need for coupons.

    How a generation of post war children finally got sticky fingers and sweet teeth and their parents war time dreams finally came true is the subject of our next blog – Chocolate and Sweets in the 1950s.




    CHOCOLATES IN THE 1980s >>

    TRADITIONAL SWEETS IN THE 1920 & 1930s >>


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  2. Is liquorice good for you?

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    Is liquorice good for you

    Is liquorice good for you? Well, like many children growing in the UK in the 1970’s, I only thought of liquorice (if I thought of it at all) as something to be used to reach into the bottom of my packet of sherbet dip.

    Once wet, the sherbet stuck to the liquorice, but if you ate the two together, you were liable to run out of liquorice before you ran out of sherbet. At least I did!

    Naturally (probably, on reflection not the best word) I was after the fizzy sensation of the sherbet, and that tingling feeling on my tongue. However, what I often got instead was a coughing fit as the yellow powder hit the back of my mouth. That’s if it didn’t end up all over my school uniform, first.

  3. Boiled Sweets Recipe

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    boiled sweets design

    Author: Magdalena Marsden

    This article was last updated on 20August 2019

    I've always been interested in traditional confectionery - pretty much all of my life I was on a quest for the perfect sweets, chocolates or bonbons. And I was always fascinated about the process of sweet's making and it was partly the reason why I founded Cocoa & Heartfew years back. All those demonstrations at seaside sweet's shops of how to make a stick of rock got me thinking, that perhaps I could have a go myself. And I did - successfully - made several batches of boiled sweets and now you can have a go too, following my step by step boiled sweets recipe tutorial.

  4. Traditional Sweets

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    Traditional Sweets

    Nostalgia is always with us; like an ocean wave that keeps coming back. Like a prized keepsake, it’s passed down from one generation to the next. Think of it like the gift in a family game of pass the parcel. It goes through so many hands and there are so many layers to unwrap. And, all too often, the anticipation rarely matches up to the final product.

    At the core of nostalgia is the compulsion to relive and then share our childhood memories with our children and the next generation; ‘this is what it was like for us, son!”. Safe in the knowledge that they’ll do exactly the same when the time comes with their children. So, like traditional sweets, nostalgia is about all sharing. Sharing the memory, sharing the moment, sharing the bag of barley sugars. Like that game of pass the parcel, it needs to be passed round and handed down.

  5. Chocolates in the 1980s

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    Chocolates in the 1980s

    The 1980s was the decade that I grew up – from starting my teenage years at secondary school in the East Midlands to ending up working in the city – of London.  It was the Thatcherite era – of selling off big public assets, like state utilities (selling out to some people). More people started to buy shares as privatisation took hold and council house owners were suddenly able to buy their own homes.

    What’s this got to do with chocolates I hear you ask. Well, everything. As an impressionable teenager, in my oversized school uniform and undone tie, I was as keen to follow the mood of the nation and earn a quick buck for myself as the next city gent in his red braces and smart pin stripe suit.

  6. American Sweets

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    American Sweets

    If you've recently visited USA and miss all the amazing sweets you've tasted there, you might be searching for where to buy them here in the UK. Or perhaps you've moved to UK from USA and missing your childhood treats. 

    Either way, here is where to buy traditional American Sweets in UK

    Where to buy American Sweets


    All major supermarkets seems to have worked out that the general public rather enjoys traditional american sweets and most large supermarkets have designated aisles with American foods.

    On-line shops

    American Sweets


    American Fizz


    Candy Hero


    Kingdom of Sweets


    I'm sure there are many more - do let me know if you have a favourite place to go for your american sweets. And by the way, which one is your favourite?

  7. Christmas Chocolate Fudge with Cherries, Pistachio & Coconut Recipe

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    Christmas Chocolate Fudge with Cherries, Pistachio &amp; Coconut Recipe

    Author: Magdalena Marsden

    Whilst I really love chocolate, one can't simply survive on eating chocolate alone! And that is why I often venture to making traditional sweets, especially before Christmas.

    This Christmas Chocolate Fudge with Cherries, Pistachio & Coconut Recipe is the perfect recipe to make and give away as a token festive gift. Make your own gift boxes or just add a pretty ribbon and a Christmas gift tag and you have a truly special festive gift. I really love the colours in this recipe, as they are very christmassy on their own and of course the flavour comes from the chocolate you use (the stronger, darker one you use the stronger flavour you will get).