Thursday, May 30, 2024

Two Not So Sweet Chocolate Bars

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity, Science & Society

Ed Hessler
--Machine gunner (M60) Henry Dobbins ate a tropical chocolate bar.--Company A mission Vietnam, Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried (Houghton Miflin Company)

A previous post focused on an heirloom cacao from Equador known as Nacional, the sweetest of the chocolates. Now we turn to an unsweetened "no nonsense wartime snack."

In the November issue of Smithsonian Magazine is the story of a chocolate bar that came with a directive to its creators: "Don't make it too delicious." Captain Paul Logan of the United States Army Quartermaster General's office "collaborated with Hershey's to create these rations.... for U. S. soldiers during operations."

The bar was to contain all the essential nutrients "but not so irresistible that the soldiers would eat any more than they needed." As a point of reference about not making it "too delicious," Logan told Hershey's that the bar "should 'taste a little better than a boiled potato."  Some 300 recipes were tried. The final recipe is found in the article.

Additionally there were other restrictions: weight not to exceed four ounces, must be pocket portable, must be "a strong and efficient energy source," and finally it must "remain solid at high temperatures" so that it could be used in the tropics. 

The result was Ration D presented molding problems for manufactures because of their dense and rich composition. They were molded by hand. Not all soldiers would eat this emergency ration. One who did, was former Olympic distance runner who became an Army Air Corps lieutenant. After his aircraft failed over the Pacific, he drifted "on a lifeboat for 47 days" existing on "a few" Ration D bars and "whatever few fish" he was able to catch.

Later a tastier bar (still not too tasty) was created in 1943 known as "Hershey's Tropical Chocolate Bar." These remained a staple for soldiers until 1991. The crew of  the Apollo 15 moon mission in 1971 dined on them. 

Samples are in the permanent collection of The National Museum of American History and you can see the Ration Type D Bar and a Hershey's Tropical Chocolate bar in the story about this bar by Kovie Biokola. These may be examples of being able to "judge a book by its cover."

Biokola includes a reference to the book about Louis Zamperini by Laura Hillenbrand. For more about Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption (Random House 2014) see here.

Here you will find some information about Colonel Paul Logan. The bar was also known as the "Logan Bar."

Hershey's includes additional information in its archives

This essay by Terry W. Burger from the February 2007 issue of America In WWII adds more information about the development of the Logan Bar.

Colonel Paul Parker Logan was born in Montgomery County, IA on 7 October 1889. He died on 19 December 1969 in San Joaquin County, CA.

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