Royal Find: the 'Most Controversial Chocolate Ever Made'

118-year-old tin ordered by Queen Victoria for soldiers in Boer War found in woman's cupboard
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2018 9:20 AM CDT
Updated Jul 14, 2018 6:00 AM CDT
Quite a find in one woman's cupboard.   (Getty Images/suprunvitaly)

(Newser) – When Eddisons CJM put a tin of World War I chocolates up for auction last month, there was one person who wasn't terribly impressed. "A lady from London wrote and said, 'Hundred-and-three-year-old chocolate is not so special,'" auctioneer Paul Cooper tells the Daily Express. That's because that woman had in her possession something even better: a tin of chocolates made in 1900, one of the gifts Queen Victoria had commissioned for soldiers fighting overseas in the Boer War to boost morale, the BBC reports. The red, gold, and blue container, made by Hudson Scott and Sons in Carlisle, was designed with "rounded corners for ease of storage in a soldier's knapsack" and to hold 8 ounces of vanilla chocolate, per the National Army Museum. That confection, the auction house tells the BBC, was "probably the most controversial chocolate ever made."

That's because the three main chocolate-makers in the UK at the time—JS Fry, Rowntree, and Cadbury—were helmed by pacifist Quakers who didn't want to be seen as making money from the war. They didn't want to spurn the queen, however, so their compromise was to donate the chocolate for free, as well as brand the chocolate with their company names (the queen wanted soldiers to know they were getting the best), but not the tins. As for how the unnamed woman came to have this 118-year-old tin, she says it's been sitting for a long time in a cupboard drawer and thinks it came from her late husband's family. A Nestle archivist tells the Express the chocolate inside is "probably not in as bad a condition as you might think, but I wouldn't recommend eating it." The Yorkshire Post reports the tin, which will go up for auction Tuesday, could fetch up to $400. (This more modern chocolate is pink.)

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