Chocolate has a very involved history with the birth of the United States and the American revolution. The founding fathers didn’t quite have the access to handcrafted chocolate, sea salt caramels, and luxury truffles as we know them today. However, they did have a close proximity to South American cacao producers and it’s no surprise that chocolate made an early appearance in American culture and economics.
Benjamin Franklin himself got in on the early American chocolate craze, and even sold chocolate out of his printing shop in Philadelphia. Since cocoa beans weren’t taxed by the British government, Americans quickly found a way to incorporate drinking chocolate beverages into their day as a substitute for tea. Something had to replace all of those barrels floating around the Boston Harbor.
Just as 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 chocolate to the communities living in the surrounding areas. This is around the time 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!
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 rely on. Access to products and finances often became scarce enough that Washington paid his soldiers in chocolate bricks. A pound of chocolate even became a pseudo-currency among the colonies, boosting morale, and assisting in the fight for independence against England.