DVIDS – News – ‘How sweet it is!’ U.S. troops have savored the taste of chocolates in their rations since World War II

By DeCA Corporate Communications

NOTE: Click https://vimeo.com/685871889/ef086786e5 to see a DeCA video related to chocolate and the military.

FORT LEE, Va. – You can’t blame service members from the past for having a sweet tooth for chocolate when you consider they had to suffer through military cuisine such as hardtack.

Eventually, US troops became known by children worldwide for the chocolate candy they carried in their rations. Today, military commissaries offer these sweet treats in many forms and at significant savings for eligible customers worldwide.

“Back in the day, if you ever opened your MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) in the field and found a chocolate bar, you felt like you’d struck gold,” said Marine Sgt. Maj. Michael R. Saucedo, senior enlisted advisor to the Defense Commissary Agency director. “Today, I don’t have to wonder if I can get a chocolate treat; it’s there in the candy aisle in my commissary – and the cost is a lot less than in a commercial store off post.”

So how did chocolate, reportedly one of the most beloved candies in America, become a staple of military rations?

In 1940 the Hershey’s Corporation developed an emergency ration chocolate bar exclusively for inclusion in soldiers’ meal kits. The bars were first tested on troops stationed in the Philippines, Panama and along the Texas border to see if they could withstand the heat –
and they did.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, America entered World War II and the troops’ emergency ration chocolate bars were specially packaged to be protected against poison gas.

During World War II the bulk of Hershey’s chocolate was exclusively produced for the US military and distributed to troops around the world. Hershey’s created the Tropical Bar in 1943 to be distributed to troops in the Pacific Theater. It weighed 4 ounces and was crafted to withstand extreme heat.

Hershey’s wasn’t alone in stocking military haversacks with chocolates. M&M’s were created in 1941 by the Mars Candy Company exclusively for the US troops. The outer coating kept the chocolate from melting and made them easy to eat.

Since the late 1930s, military rations have carried some form of chocolate. Today, that tradition continues with chocolate being part of basic field rations and sundry packs.

With Easter coming up on April 17, Saucedo said it would be a perfect time to hit your commissary to sweeten the hunt for your children.

“The age-old Easter egg hunt is even nicer when a chocolate bunny is in the mix,” Saucedo said. “And remember you can save a lot of money on all of your chocolate treats at your local commissary.”

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Date Taken: 03.17.2022
Date Posted: 03.17.2022 09:58
StoryID: 416635
Location: FORT LEE, VA, US

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