Purpose of this blog

Dmitry Yudo aka Overlord, jack of all trades
David Lister aka Listy, Freelancer and Volunteer

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Chocolate War

Today's article is another contest entry. This one came from Azaz129 on the NA server.

There are three things universal to all wars: soldiers, weapons, and food - though not many tend to focus on the latter.

The US military generally issued five different rations during World War Two: A-rations, B-rations. C-rations, K-rations, and D-rations. A-rations are fresh, refrigerated, or frozen food that is served to troops after being prepared by a field kitchen or transported from fixed facilities. B-rations are foods that come canned, preserved or pre-packaged and do not require the use of refrigeration. C-rations were individually issued rations that were pre-cooked and canned for soldiers out in the field where A-rations and B-rations were impractical, they were replaced in 1958 by the Meal Combat Individual (MCI), which was later replaced by the Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) in 1981. K-rations were meant to be issued to mobile forces, such as paratroopers and the tank corps, for short durations, contained three boxed meals, the military declared it obsolete in 1948 due to inadequate caloric content. Finally, D-rations were meant for emergency situations and consisted of concentrated chocolate bars designed to provide maximum calories for soldiers in need.

Even before the start of World War Two, the United States was looking for a way to supplement soldiers' rations with a nutritious, lightweight food. In 1937, Captain Paul Logan of the U.S. Army Quartermaster General's office went to Hershey Chocolate Company President, William Murrie, about creating a chocolate bar to be included in military rations. The requirements presented to Hershey were simple, lightweight, high energy, and (in order to ensure consumption only in emergencies) tasting slightly better than a boiled potato.
D-Ration... Looks tasty? So palatable you need to eat it over the course of 30 minutes.
The result was a viscous paste that had to be hand packed into molds. Called D-rations, the bar had to have pieces shaved off for consumption and possessed an extremely bitter taste. Soldiers called it “Hitler's Secret Weapon” and would often times throw them away as soon as they received them. Later, in 1943, the government would ask Hershey to design a new bar that could hold its shape for an hour in 120 degree heat and would have a somewhat improved taste, eventually resulting in the Tropical Chocolate bar.
Around the same time as this, Forrest Mars, son of the creator of the rival Milky Way bar, was working on developing a sugar-coated chocolate candy designed to resist heat, after having seen a similar sugar coated chocolate being eaten by soldiers in the Spanish Civil War. Unlike Hershey, Mars was trying to create a commercially available product in addition to a snack for servicemen. With this in mind, Mars approached William Murrie's son, Bruce, about a partnership. For a 20% stake in the product, Murrie secured a steady supply of chocolate from Hershey, which was in charge of U.S. sugar and chocolate rationing at the time. The product was named M&M's after Mars and Murrie. Though Mars would buy out Murries's share shortly after the war ended, the name would remain.
Shortly after release, the U.S. military became the exclusive customer for Mars' new product and would remain so for the duration of the war. Unlike the modified Hershey bar, M&M's were included in soldiers C rations in cardboard tubes and were intended for regular consumption, which allowed for a taste that didn't cause the troops to want to immediately throw them away. After the end of the war, as well as rationing, the newly returned soldiers continued buying M&M's and by 1954 M&M's were the number one candy in the United States. To this day, various chocolates are still included in soldiers' regular rations.

Image credits:
www.schaakstukkenmuseum.nl, www.historicreproductions.com and amhistory.si.edu/