Terry's Chocolate Apple and Rowntree's in the trenches: York and Australia linked by Chocolate Story

By Culture24 Reporter | 07 July 2016

The Chocolate Oranges being eaten on World Chocolate Day earned their popularity by fending off the dinner table challenge of the Chocolate Apple

A photo of a piece of historic chocolate at York's Chocolate Story
© Visit York, visityork.org
The sweetest teeth in Britain’s World War One ranks might have belonged to the men from York.

At the start of the war, the city sent a gift of a tin of Rowntree’s chocolate to all of its residents serving in the forces, augmented by postcards, pencils and similarly practical gifts.

Part of a wider national campaign, the initiative relied on cocoa coupons collected by the families of personnel, and it proved so popular that every member of the military abroad received one of the King George Chocolate Tins in 1915.

A photo of a piece of historic chocolate at York's Chocolate Story
The King George 1915 Chocolate Tin, distributed to the troops during World War One and now kept at kept at York's Chocolate Story© Visit York, visityork.org
York is the birthplace of Terry’s Chocolate Orange. In the mid-19th century, Joseph Terry Jnr continued the sweet-centred family business in a new factory on the banks of the River Ouse, where the ingredients would be shipped in along the Humber Estuary.

The first mention of a fruit-themed design, according to the Borthwick Archives at the University of York, comes in a dusty brochure from the 1920s – the Terry’s Dessert Chocolate Apple was made in 1926, but the orange surpassed it to the point of redundancy by 1954.

Luxury chocolate boxes were beautifully illustrated at this point, with the apples and oranges suggested for special occasions or the “better off”. These were less ubiquitous times for chocolate: the name made it seem like the preserve of the dinner table.

A photo of a piece of historic chocolate at York's Chocolate Story
Women in the Terry's Chocolate Factory, circa 1920s© Visit York, visityork.org
Centuries on, the oranges are more likely to be chomped on the sofa, but the history continues to inspire in a way which now links York and Australia. Fiona McIntosh, a prolific Australian storyteller, has based her new book – a “historical romance adventure novel” – on what she saw in York.

In The Chocolate Tin, a privileged young woman dreams of working at Rowntree’s Factory. The novel will launch in Australia on Halloween, and tourism bosses in York are capitalising with a competition on the other side of the world, offering plane tickets to the city and entry to attractions including the ancient Betty’s Café Tea Rooms.

“I was privileged to see the still intact chocolate inside one of the King’s Tins,” says McIntosh, recalling her visit to the eternally-popular York’s Chocolate Story.

A photo of a piece of historic chocolate at York's Chocolate Story
© Visit York, visityork.org
“It was a poignant thought that this, perhaps, was destined for a soldier and should have been eaten. The idea for a novel roared into my conscious.

“Everyone I spoke to has offered me amazing stories and insights into York’s chocolate-making past.”

McIntosh wants readers to go on a trail of the historic locations namechecked in the Penguin-published book. Whoever wins is going to get to see off their jetlag in style.

A photo of a piece of historic chocolate at York's Chocolate Story
The Chocolate Works factory clock tower opened in 1926 and closed in 2005© Wikimedia Commons
“Two York National Trust properties have strong connections with the Terry chocolate dynasty,” points out Lionel Chatard, the General Manager at Middlethorpe Hall Hotel, a huge 17th century house which is offering plush accommodation, a candlelit dinner, a spa and a Yorkshire Breakfast to the lucky Australians.

“Goddard’s House was built by Noel Terry in 1927 in a stylish Arts & Craft style with matching gardens. The family also purchased and lived at Middlethorpe Hall, near the Terry Chocolate factory on Bishopthorpe Road.” Terry’s has long since moved its production to Europe, but the taste remains in England's city of chocolate.

  • York’s Chocolate Story is an entertaining guided tour through the history of York’s most famous chocolate-making families and their finest creations. Discover chocolate’s origins, how to make it, how to taste it like an expert and even the sustainable future of chocolate at yorkschocolatestory.com.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a piece of historic chocolate at York's Chocolate Story
The Art Deco building is Grade II-listed© Peter Church / Wikimedia Commons
A photo of a piece of historic chocolate at York's Chocolate Story
Everybody needs a chocolate version of York Minster© Visit York, visityork.org
A photo of a piece of historic chocolate at York's Chocolate Story
© Visit York, visityork.org
Three places to follow chocolate history

The Chocolate Museum, London
The Chocolate Museum’s mission is to inspire a passion for learning about quality chocolate and its history both in Britain and worldwide. Britain, one of the three largest consumer of chocolate in the world, is indeed where solid chocolate was invented, and the first country to give chocolate to its army: chocolate helped sailors and soldiers from the 1780s to World War I and II.

Goddards, York
Discover the cherished family home of Noel Goddard Terry, owner of Terry’s of York. The house was designed by architect Walter Brierley in the Arts and Crafts style and is complemented by four acres of gardens, designed by George Dillistone. A hidden gem - only a stone's throw away from York City Centre.

Selly Manor, Birmingham
Selly Manor and Minworth Greaves are two ancient timber-framed manor houses moved to Bournville in the early 20th century by the chocolate manufacturer George Cadbury. They are two of Birmingham's oldest houses and are beautiful examples of medieval and Tudor architecture, surrounded by an authentic period garden.
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