Why do we love chocolate at Christmas?

Christmas Chocolates

Chocolate and Christmas are synonymous, and many of us would be lost without our Terry’s Chocolate Orange first thing morning on December 25th (no judgment, it’s Christmas!). But that isn’t all for our festive obsessions; advent calendars, Santa Selection, Celebration Boxes, and After eights all bring back memories of childhood treats. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without some lovely chocolate!

Why is chocolate so important in our Christmas experience?

A Cocoa pod and grinding tool

The Origins of Chocolate

Chocolate has always been used to celebrate and mark special occasions. The Olmecs, Mayans and Aztecs, the first people to create chocolate, in the form of Xocolatl. They used it in various ceremonies, marking marriages, celebrating births, and even as part of the Aztec’s human sacrifice rituals. The significance wasn’t lost on the European invaders, who took it back to Europe as high-status gifts.

We explore the early story of chocolate in Yorks’s Chocolate Story tour, and we also have lots of lovely treats and samples for you to try as well.

Chocolate grew in popularity in Europe and the Middle East, and giving chocolate as gifts became a way of showing your wealth and sophistication. One of the first recorded high-profile giving of chocolate gifts is none other than Queen Victoria, who gave chocolate as gifts to soldiers. This quickly became a new fashion and all across Europe giving chocolate at Christmas became all the rage. 

A variety of Terry's Chocolate Oranges

Chocolate Christmas gifts

At first chocolate Christmas gifts were very expensive and might be the only gift a person would receive. Similar to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! As it became more commonplace, classic Christmas gifts were developed early on in York, with well-known treats like Terry’s Chocolate Orange, After Eights, and KitKats all being first made in York, and started making their way into Christmas stockings soon after.

Other holiday traditions not initially associated with chocolate also took on a chocolatey twist. Chocolate Yule logs are started as real logs placed on the roaring fire. Hanukah traditions also started incorporating chocolate gift-giving for children.

As early as the 1930’s chocolatiers started especially catering for Christmas gifts, with special wrapping and even flavours! York’s chocolatiers were pioneers in this, with many of their seasonal gifts becoming specially tailored to appeal to gift-givers.

Today there is plenty of competition for chocolaty treats at Christmas. York’s finest festive fare is still some of the best-known threats around though. If you are in York, or looking for a holiday excursion, York’s Chocolate Story not only tells the history of how chocolate becomes our most popular gift but also has several Christmas-themed workshops, from festive truffle rolling to making festive treats with Santa Himself!

The Chocolate Industry and Slavery

Chocolate Masterclass

Here at York’s Chocolate Story we unwrap centuries of the history of chocolate. We believe it is important to be aware of the role colonisation and slavery have played in the chocolate trade. Slavery is an ongoing problem in cocoa production and steps are being taken to help eradicate it from the chocolate industry.

History of the Chocolate Industry and Slavery

While the Portuguese were the first Europeans to encounter cocoa, the Spanish became involved in cocoa production first. After their conquest of central America in the 16th century, they introduced an “encomienda” system. The Spanish Crown granted colonisers the legal rights to the labour of the native non-Christian population. The colonisers forced them to work in horrific conditions.

Demand for cocoa increased dramatically in the mid-to-late 17th century because drinking chocolate became popular amongst upper classes in Europe. The first cocoa house in England house opened in London in 1657. Cocoa beans were shipped to Europe from New Spain (Mexico), Ecuador and Venezuela. By the late 17th century, the labour force had shifted to mainly enslaved Africans. They were transported across the Atlantic in terrible conditions and forced to work on cocoa and sugar plantations throughout South America and the Caribbean.

Throughout the 18th century Britain directly profited from the slave trade and slavery. Tea, coffee, sugar and cocoa poured into ports as colonial products.

York’s Chocolate Industry’s Involvement

York’s Quaker chocolate manufacturers often purchased cocoa from British and other European colonies. These companies included some of York’s most recognisable, like Rowntree’s. However, as philanthropists, Quakers were one of the leading voices in the abolition movement. The Tuke family, responsible for the Retreat hospital in York, helped to fund the election campaign of William Wilberforce. He was a prominent anti-slavery campaigner and philanthropist.

With the abolition of the slave trade throughout the British Empire in 1807, and slavery as an institution in 1833, colonial indenture developed as a bonded labour system used on cocoa farms in European held Caribbean and West Africa. As slaves were freed, they had little choice but to continue working on plantations with little pay and poor conditions. Colonial indenture was eventually abolished in 1920. An investigation by The Rowntree Society into the history of the Rowntree’s supply chain has revealed they benefitted from colonial indenture. In the 1890s Rowntree & Co purchased multiple plantations in British colonies (the islands of Dominica, Jamaica and Trinidad). Research is ongoing into how the company benefitted from the forced labour of enslaved and indentured people.

British chocolate manufacturers also bought cocoa from the West African Islands colonised by Portugal, such as Sao Tome and Principe. While companies raised concerns about slavery on these plantations and even sent a journalist to investigate, they continued to buy ingredients from the regions. They believed they could address the issue of slavery through diplomatic channels. This failed and in 1909 the chocolate manufacturers publicly announced they were going to buy cocoa from elsewhere.

The Modern Chocolate Industry and Slavery

The abolition of the transatlantic slave trade and the colonial indenture system did not end slavery in chocolate production.

Despite major brands vowing to stop using cocoa harvested by children two decades ago, child labour in modern day chocolate production is unfortunately still a huge problem. The chocolate industry is still guilty of human rights abuses because these children, often victims of human trafficking, work for low pay in terrible conditions.

Modern Initiatives to End Slavery in Chocolate Production

York’s Chocolate Story are Partners to Callebaut. Their program Forever Chocolate aims to make sustainable chocolate with no child labour the normal across the industry by 2025.

Callebaut’s involved in the World Cocoa Foundation establishing CocoaAction and they are going to go beyond the initiative.

Forever Chocolate has four main aims: to lift farmers out of poverty, eradicate child labour, become carbon and forest positive and have 100% sustainable ingredients in all of their products.

Callebaut is aiming to start a movement with their industry partners, governments, NGO’s and consumers to meet these aims.

York’s Chocolate Story’s shop stocks a range of chocolates from suppliers that are making leaps in terms of sustainability.

Find out more about York’s Chocolate Story here

Text reads: team chocolate








8 Famous Chocolate Brand Slogans

I heart chocolate bar

There have been many memorable slogans from chocolate brands over the years. Unwrap these famous taglines and see how many you recognise.

1. Have a Break…Have a KitKat®

KitKat® was invented in York by Rowntree’s and introduced in 1935 as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp®. It used the original slogan, ‘Enjoy a break at teatime’ with the four-finger bar, the first to be released. It became the KitKat Chocolate Crisp® in 1937 and eventually just KitKat® in 1949. The well-known slogan ‘Have a Break…Have a KitKat®’ has been used since 1958.

KitKat advert featuring the famous “Have a break…Have a KitKat” slogan

Unwrap more fun facts about York’s iconic chocolate brands on our Facebook and Instagram.

2. It’s not for girls!

The Yorkie® campaign attracted controversy, including an investigation by the Advertising Standards Agency after complaints of sexism. Interestingly, however the campaign led to an increase in sales of the bar to females. Yorkie®, introduced by Rowntree’s in 1976, takes its name from its home city of York. From the start the marketing campaigns targeted a male audience and used other slogans based on gender stereotypes as part of their marketing, such as “not available in pink”. Yorkie removed the slogan from the bars in 2012.

3. It’s not Terry’s, it’s mine

Terry’s is another famous chocolate company that originated in York. Terry’s Chocolate Orange® has had a range of famous marketing slogans including, ‘Smash it to pieces, love it to bits,’ ‘Tap it and Unwrap it,’ ‘Don’t tap it…Whack it!’ and of course ‘It’s not Terry’s, it’s mine’ made famous by the Dawn French advertising campaigns. Terry’s heavily promote it at Christmas as a popular stocking filler.

Terry’s Chocolate Lemon with one of their famous slogans on top

4. Get the sensation

York Peppermint Pattie was invented by a York resident, but not the York we call home. Instead, it was York, Pennsylvania in the United States, that inspired this chocolate company. The famous campaign launched in 1972. The tagline is still used today, though the York Peppermint Pattie has changed owners and is now part of Hershey’s.

5. Only Smarties® have the answer

One of their oldest products, released in 1882 as Rowntree’s Chocolate Beans®. The sugar-coated chocolate drops re-branded as Smarties® in 1937 to appeal more to children. The slogan has been in use since the late 1970s.

6. Do you eat the red ones last?

Preceding ‘Only Smarties® have the answer’, ‘Do you eat the red ones last?’ was the main slogan, introduced in a catchy song for a TV advertisement, and it is still occasionally used today. The chocolates are coated in eight different colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, mauve, pink and brown. Do you eat your Smarties in a particular order?

7. Feel the bubbles

Aero® bars were introduced by Rowntree’s in 1935, initially only in the North of England. High sales meant the bars started to be sold across the country and then expanded internationally. The slogan featured in a 2009 campaign and reflects the bars “bubbly” texture.

8. Welcome to York. Where the men are hunky and the chocolate chunky

Another Yorkie® advert, this one emphasising the bar’s connection to York. Trains arriving at York Railway Station would pass a billboard that said “Welcome to”, followed by a picture of a Yorkie bar with the end unwrapped. This formed the slogan “Welcome to York. Where the men are hunky and the chocolate chunky”. We will leave it to you to decide how accurate it is.

How many of the famous chocolate slogans did you recognise? Unwrap centuries of the history of York’s chocolate industry on a tour, browse delicious chocolates in our shop or try one of our signature hot chocolates. Find out more here.

The Ultimate Chocolate Gift Guide

It’s the most chocolate-y time of the year! That’s right, Christmas is just around the corner and that means one thing and one thing only… CHOCOLATE (and lots of it)! But, with so much chocolate out there, we wanted to share our chocolate gift guide filled with chocolate for you to share with loved ones (or… keep to yourself) throughout the festive season!

  1. Christmas isn’t Christmas without a box of chocolates (or 10). And we think our Gourmet Pudding Selection is just too good not to indulge in this Christmas! From Jam Roly Poly to Sticky Toffee Pudding, these chocolates will give you the delicious taste of nostalgia that we all love at this time of year!

2. Money might not buy happiness, but chocolate coins certainly help! Perfect for stuffing stockings or nibbling around the Christmas tree, chocolate coins are a festive classic that never goes amiss!

 3. Fancy yourself as a star baker? Why not try out one of our bake-at-home brownie kits! Decadent, gooey, chocolate-filled brownies, what’s not to love?!

4. Fans of dark chocolate, look no further! Our trio of Christmas Library Bars is simply made for you! With a delightful selection of dark chocolate, featuring festive flavours like Christmas Pudding and Winter Fruits with Cinnamon – this is a seasonal selection not to be missed!

5. If white chocolate is right up your street, fear not! Our White Chocolate Reindeers are exactly the Christmas treat you’re looking for!

6. Why stop at eating chocolate when you can drink it too?! Indulge in a Winter Warming Spiced Hot Chocolate aka Christmas in a mug.

7. Sprouts you’ll actually want to eat?! That’s right, tasty sprouts do exist… in chocolate form of course!

8. Simply can’t decide which chocolate is your favourite? Well, why decide when you can have them all! An 18-bar collection is sure to tide you over until at least the new year and you’ll be sure to have found lots of new favourites by the time you’re done!

9. The best kind of snowballs are the ones you can eat! With orange, salted caramel and peanut butter flavoured chocolate snowballs in our collection, you’ll never be stuck for choice!

10. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without him… Chocolate Santa is the non-negotiable guest at every Christmas party and our Santa Lolly Pops are no exception!

With all of this chocolate at your fingertips, you’re certain to have a chocolate filled Christmas, New Year (and quite possibly 2021) – enjoy!

Buy anything from our chocolate gift guide? share your pictures with us on Instagram!

The place to go for Vegan Chocolate in York

First we had ‘#GymJanuary’, then we had ‘#DryJanuary’ and now we have ‘#Veganuary’. This trend has taken over the country as people swap their meat and dairy food products for a plant- based diet. We are the perfect place to go for Vegan chocolate in York.

Being a chocolate attraction, you would think we would be boycotting this trend as chocolate contains dairy, but we are all for it as we offer a range of tasty vegan chocolates…

Rose Chocolate
Our rose flavoured chocolates are sumptuously dark and infused with rose petals. These sweetly scented chocolates gives away floral like notes delighting all your taste buds.

Violet Chocolate
A British favourite, our violet chocolates have a floral notes with a very distinct Palma violet flavour. A dark chocolate shell with a creamy fondant centre.

Mint Chocolates
Our mint chocolates are an exciting flavour of dark chocolate with traditional mint notes that comes through with every bite.

Orange Chocolates
Orange chocolates can be tedious but we have jazzed up this iconic chocolate by giving it a tangy taste with an electrifying coloured shell.

Chilli and Lime Chocolates
A unique combination to tingle your taste buds, the heat of the chilli contrasts with the cool lime leaving your taste buds utterly blown away.

That’s not all…
We cater for all types of intolerance’s and allergies on our tour. We understand the frustration with not being able to eat what you want, especially when it comes to chocolate. This is why we offer dairy free alternatives and allergen chocolate bars specially made for our guests with dietary requirements. We don’t want anyone to miss out on the chocolatey goodness! So if you are looking for Vegan chocolate in York, visit us!

Follow us on Instagram for updates on our range of delicious chocolates!

5 Fun Easter Chocolate Facts

Easter is one of the most chocolate-filled holidays! Want to unwrap some Easter chocolate facts? then read on! For more fun facts about chocolate, check out our social media channels: Facebook and Instagram.

1.The first chocolate eggs appeared in France and Germany in the 19th Century, but they were bitter and hard.

2. In Switzerland, Easter eggs are delivered by a cuckoo and in parts of Germany by a fox. In the UK we believe that a Bunny delivers the eggs, by the bunny laying, decorating and hiding the eggs this symbolises new life.

3. On average, each child in the UK receives 8.8 Easter eggs every year – our top tip for other ways to enjoy your Easter Eggs…

Melt them down and you can use the melted chocolate for baking chocolate buns, making a signature York’s Chocolate Story Chocolate lolly, or why don’t you have a go at making and decorating your own Easter egg with the melted chocolate?

4. Rowntrees’ produced their first Chocolate Easter Egg in 1904, however Fry’s produced the first Easter egg in 1873. Fry’s tried to add value to their eggs by adding a gift like a watch, a necklace or even cutlery; this didn’t quite take off.

5. When Rowntrees’ first started to produce Easter Eggs they created Easter catalogues that were gold plated and full of gigantic Easter eggs in expensive caskets. After the War when sweet rationing ended Rowntrees’ 1954 Easter catalogue only had two eggs in it.

Head over to Newsround to watch our Chocolatier, Mark, sample original Easter Eggs and what they may be like…

If you enjoyed unwrapping these Easter chocolate facts, then you would love our tour where you can see behind the scenes of chocolate production and hear all about York’s chocolate industry!

Top 5 Best Places to Get Pancakes in York on Pancake Day

Fortunately, York is a thriving city for all the foodies out there, with a large variety of quaint coffee shops, delicious bakeries and unique restaurants. The city is an everyday bustling buffet – not forgetting York is the home of chocolate of course!

With Pancake Day on the horizon and a lot of food outlets to choose from, we are here to navigate you to the best places in York to get pancakes on Pancake Day.

1. York’s Chocolate Story – Chocolate and Pancakes go hand in hand (especially melted chocolate.) York’s Chocolate Story is offering limited edition chocolate pancake cones this Pancake Day. A Pancake that comes drizzled in rich melted chocolate, strawberries and meringue – an Instagram dream. Have the option to eat in or take away, they’re perfect for Pancake Day celebrators on their lunch break. Why not enjoy the deliciously tasty chocolate tour too!

2. Brew and Brownie – A favourite among York Residents, this indie haven is located along Museum Street and offers casual dining for breakfast and lunch. Their rustic interiors marry up with their rustic coffee and scrumptious food. They offer a classic American Pancake stack in lots of yummy flavours such as banana & salted caramel or Nutella.

Brew & Brownie, Museum Street

3. Double Dutch Pancake House – A slice of Amsterdam located in the heart of York. The Double Dutch pancake House only sells pancakes (as you could have guessed.) Sweet or Savoury this Dutch inspired café offers a variety of unique flavours such as ham, sliced pineapple and Edam cheese or Greek yoghurt, drizzled with honey served with bananas – these are bound to intrigue the taste buds.

Double Dutch Pancake House – perfect place to challenge the taste buds

4. The Blue Barbakan – The new-comer underdog of York town has seriously climbed the ranks in the pancake department. This restaurant can be found on the bustling street of Fossgate and is home to an eastern style cuisine. Pancakes with crispy bacon and syrup – classic but fulfilling. A foodies dream and kids eat Breakfast for free!

The Blue Barbakan – newly open on Fossgate

5. The Botanist – Popular across social media The Botanist are bringing back their iconic pancake kebab stacks. Located on Stonegate, this trendy restaurant offers a botanical theme that includes cocktails being served in flowerpots. Get ready to Instagram as the pancake kebab stacks are served with brownie or Strawberries – only the best toppings of course!

The Botanist – the hanging kebab

We hope you enjoy some delicious pancakes in York this Pancake Day! If you visit us for a tasty pancake cone, don’t forget to take a picture and tag us on Instagram!

5 Fun facts about Chocolate and Valentine’s Day

The day we all dread but secretly love comes around once a year, marked in our calendars as the day we must show our slightly more affectionate side – Valentine’s Day isn’t just a corporate holiday it actually goes back decades, fortunately for us chocolate and the day of love go hand in hand. But have you ever wondered how giving chocolate as a sign of love came about?

Chocolate and love dates all the way back to the Mayans

The first recorded link between chocolate and romance dates all the way back to the Aztecs. Emperor Montezuma was rumoured to eat cocoa beans to fuel his romances. It was said that cocoa was the food of the gods.

Chocolate is set to be an aphrodisiac food.

Chocolate releases serotonin and another feel-good hormone called dopamine. This gets released when eating chocolate, which gives the same feeling of when someone is in love.

York’s Chocolate Story’s Ruby and Prosecco chocolates

Royalty gave chocolate as a present to show love

European royalty would give their loved ones chocolate with amber to romance them, which then trickled down to the regular public as they took away the amber and started to gift chocolate on its own.

Women who eat chocolate have desire.

Studies have shown women who eat chocolate are said to show more desire for romance, compared to women who don’t.

Traditionally Rowntree’s would create confectionery chocolate boxes which were seen as a luxury romantic gesture.

Rowntree’s was the first confectionery company to pioneer the early chocolate selection boxes, these were seen as a luxury gift which people would save up months and months for. In our exhibition you can see some of the early chocolate selection boxes that were made.

Unwrap more of the history of chocolate by following us on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. You can also visit us to learn the secrets of chocolate production and York’s iconic brands.

Picture of the Rowntree’s making the chocolate selection boxes

Top 5 chocolate gift ideas

We all have the one relative who is renowned for having a chocolate addiction, everything Birthday and Christmas you know you’re on to a winner when you’re supplying them with a chocolate related gift. Here at the home of chocolate we are giving you the go to guide of the perfect chocolate gift ideas.

1.Personalised Bar
That’s right you can order a personalised bar that is hand made by our Chocolatiers. Come in store and speak to a member of staff or ring up the sales team and create your personalised bar from scratch. Choose the chocolate, the decoration and what you want piped in chocolate on the top.

Personalised chocolate bar

2. Luxury fresh chocolates
Our luxury fresh chocolates are a perfect gift for a chocoholic. Choose from exotic flavours or the classics for a personal selection of someone’s favourite chocolates. Delicately made in house by our Chocolatiers you are able to choose from one or two chocolates in a bag to a 24 box.

Hand made chocolates created by our expert chocolatiers

3. Masterclass/ hire of a chocolatier
For that Chocoholic that has it all give the most luxurious chocolate experience we offer. Hire a Chocolatier for a group and have your own personalised Masterclass, a one to one experience not to be forgotten.

Chocolate piping at it’s best

4. Personalised KitKat Chocolatory
Personalise your own KitKat, come to Yorkshire’s only KitKat Chocolatory where you have the chance to create your own break. A perfect present for a KitKat lover, pick your chocolate flavour and choose three of your favourite toppings finish the gift with a personalised message on your packaging.

KitKat Chocolatory Create you Break personalised box

5. Family ticket for the tour.
Treat a chocolate loving family to our brilliant (if we do say so ourselves) tour. Indulge your sense as you taste, touch and smell chocolate as you make your own lolly, watch demonstrations by a Chocolatier and dip in to the rich heritage chocolate has in the city of York.

Remember to check out our social media channels, such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, for more chocolate gift ideas!

Our Head Chocolatier demonstrating our chocolate rain

Bonfire Night

It’s definitely safe to say we all love Bonfire Night at York’s Chocolate Story. It’s a joyous time where we try and write our names with sparklers and get involved with the Bonfire Night festivities such as apple bobbing and building a Guy Fawkes. Our own city holds so much history for this festival and therefore we have a picked out 6 fun facts about Bonfire night for you to enjoy.

1) Bonfire Night is also known as Guy Fawkes Night, Guy Fawkes Day and Fireworks Night.

2) Bonfires are actually quite dark, in that they originated to represent burning Guy Fawkes at the stake.

3) Over 400 years ago, Guy Fawkes was part of a team of 13 Catholics brought together to carry out the Gunpowder Plot, intending to blow up King James I and his government whilst they were in the famous Houses of Parliament.

4) Fawkes was born in April 1570 and raised in York which, as you can imagine, ties the city to this festival. Fawkes attended St Peters school, which is just outside the city walls. There is also a hotel situated in York known as the Guy Fawkes Inn, where it is said that Fawkes was born. There are rumours to this very day that the hotel is still haunted by his Ghost.

5) 5th November was initially known as Gunpowder Treason Day and bonfires were lit as a celebration that the King hadn’t been killed.

6) The word for firework in Japanese is ‘hanabi’, which translates to ‘fire-flower’.

Now that we have filled you with some facts, we hope you enjoy your bonfire night plans!

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