• Laureta Huit

just not that tasty

Candy as good as a boiled potato. Candy as a sweet treat offered a quick “Pick-Me-Up” for the enlisted soldiers of World War II, but initially the candy designed and implemented was intended to be just not that tasty. As counter intuitive as that maybe when thinking about candy, these were in fact emergency rations and intended for extreme emergency situations. They had to ensure that they were saved for such a time, and not eaten too quickly or as a treat.

Hershey was selected to design a bar for emergency rations, sticking to the protocol of making it less than tasty, ensuring its use in near starvation situations. The ration bar had to be very dense in nutrition and calories, maintain in high temperature or when carried in the pocket. The bar was very dense and bitter from the use of dark chocolate. It contained chocolate liquor, sugar, skim milk powder, cocoa butter, oat flour, vanillin. They lowered the sugar and raised the chocolate liquor, and the addition of oat flour raised the melting point of the chocolate about 20 degrees. They could not manufacture them in the traditional way, they needed to press the chocolate dough like substance into stamped molds by hand, rather than pouring. Each bar contained up to 600 calories as well as essential vitamins and minerals. The D-Ration bars were so hard they had to be sliced off in small slivers with a knife. If eaten too fast, it would cause digestive disturbances.

After a lukewarm response from the troops and most D-Ration bars being thrown in the trash rather than used, Hershey was asked to reformulate. They were tasked with creating a bar that could withstand the extreme heat of the Pacific Theatre. Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate bars were developed in response and provided a sweeter, better tasting treat. The Tropical bar was designed to allow the bar to hold its shape after one hour in 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The new formulation was a resounding success, and a favorite to receive in daily rations. This fell in line with the new Morale Initiative, moving from the generically labeled package design of the original D-Ration to the distinctive design considered in the making of the Tropical Bar. This bar was destined to exceed all other items in tonnage produced and along with the Field Ration D bar, became part of Hershey Chocolate’s history. By the end of World War II, almost 380,000,000 two-ounce Tropical bars had been produced for the United States military.