Chocolate has a very involved history with the birth of the United States and the American revolution. Albeit, the founding fathers didn’t have access to handcrafted chocolate, sea salt caramels, and luxury truffles as we know them today. However, with the growth of the colonies, coupled with their proximity to South American cacao producers, it was no surprise that chocolate made an early appearance in American culture and economics.
Unsurprisingly, Benjamin Franklin himself was in on the early American chocolate craze, and even sold chocolate out of his printing shop in Philadelphia. Because cocoa beans weren’t taxed by the British government, Americans quickly found a way a way to incorporate drinking chocolate into their days as a tea substitute. Something had to replace all of those barrels that ended up in Boston Harbor!
Just as drinking chocolate increased in popularity, so did chocolate producers in the colonies. By the beginning of the revolutionary war, there were more chocolate factories in America than there were in England, and most of them were co-located with grain and wheat mills and distributed to the families living within a few miles. Chocolate began to establish itself as an American favorite, and gained the adoration of the soon-to-be leader of the Continental Army.
George Washington developed a taste for chocolate, and even went as far as ensuring its inclusion into his soldiers’ rations. As the war raged on, access to luxuries from Europe became increasingly scarce, and chocolate was a consistent pleasure that the colonists could enjoy. Access to products and finances became scarce enough that Washington frequently paid his soldiers in chocolate bricks. A pound of chocolate became a high value currency among the colonies, boosting morale, and assisting in the fight against England.