A Brief History of Chocolate is a very brief ebook (44 pages in total) that might more aptly be titled “A brief history of chocolate candy and brands.” After a four page introduction taking chocolate from the Mayan origin to the modern world, Steve Berry and Phil Norman dive into the world of commercial chocolates.
The book is divided into sections based on chocolate form, from the candy bar to the liqueur-filled. In each section, Berry and Norman provide a list detailing which candy maker developed what form first and then detail the different variations, names, and wrapper types each maker created. There are also plentiful illustrations showing the chocolates, their wrappers, and assorted advertisements. The focus is very much on British manufacturers, with brief forays into European and American chocolate if and when it arrived in the United Kingdom.
At varying points, Berry and Norman venture an opinion about the candy they discuss. Hersey’s, for example, tastes “at best—a little sour. (Or, at worst, a little cheesy, vomity, and baby-sicky).” At another point, “Rowntree unleashed the Nutty, which was what you got if you took a Prize, removed the raisins and chocolate, injected it with caramel and wrapped it in transparent brown cellophane. And if you did that, you deserved what you got.” These bits serve to enliven the book and vary the rhythm.
People looking for a full history of chocolate—its journey from the Mayans to Europe and through the social classes, or the wars and rivalries between chocolatiers and manufactuers—are advised to look elsewhere. Those who are amused to discover that in 1976 it was possible to buy Cadbury bars with the Wombles on them, or who are curious about when Toffee Treets became Relays, or who wonder at what point it was possible to buy a TARDIS-shaped Easter Egg are in luck.
A Brief History of Chocolate is available now.
Published: April 10th 2014
Publisher: The Friday Project, HarperCollins