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August 5, 2008

CW's chocolate, brewing programs celebrate the history of these guilty pleasures

Chocolate is a delectable ingredient for many colonial and modern dishes. Beer has been refreshing Virginia for centuries. Colonial Williamsburg offers two seasonal programs in the Historic Area to highlight the 18th-century methods for producing and consuming these guilty pleasures.

“The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” program allows guests to learn how raw cocoa beans are processed into chocolate and its uses in 18th-century cooking. The program is presented by Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways journeymen in the historic Governor’s Palace Kitchen, using reproduction period kitchen tools. Delving into the transition from ground and roasted cocoa beans to formed chocolate, guests discover every step of making the delicious treat from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Sept. 2, Oct. 7, Nov. 4 and Dec. 2.

Chocolate was made primarily to be served as a hot beverage, the drink of choice to pair with breakfast. Chocolate, along with coffee and tea, was considered a “necessity” in the colonies and could be found everywhere in the 18th century.

“The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” was the inspiration for Colonial Williamsburg and Mars Incorporated to create “American Heritage Chocolate” products. The “American Heritage Chocolates” may be purchased at the Craft House, Tarpley’s Store, Greenhow Store, Raleigh Tavern Bakery and DuBois Grocer, and WILLIAMSBURG Revolutions in Colonial Williamsburg’s Visitor Center. The colonial chocolate may be purchased as an authentic chocolate drink mix or chocolate sticks or bars to be melted into a hot beverage or enjoyed on the spot.

Colonial Williamsburg chocolate programs are supported in part by Forrest and Deborah Mars and the Mars Foundation of McLean. American Heritage Chocolates have been developed in partnership with the historic division of Mars Inc. of McLean, Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways staff, and members of the Colonial Chocolate Society. The society, formed in 2004 by Mr. and Mrs. Mars, has as its mission to foster research and interest in historic chocolate making and production.

“The Art and Mysteries of Brewing” demonstration discovers the process of brewing beer as it was practiced in the 18th century. Guests may explore the brewing of beer in the Governor’s Palace Scullery from 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, Sept. 20, Oct. 5, Oct. 25 and Nov. 2.

The everyday beer for many people in 18th-century Colonial Williamsburg was known as “small beer.” This small beer was made by boiling molasses, hops and wheat bran, straining out the mixture, and later adding yeast for the fermenting process. A porter beer, described as a dark, sweet ale, was another very popular beverage in the 18th century. Porters contain a mixture of burnt molasses and sugar to ensure their dark color, along with licorice root added for its distinct flavor. Beer was served at cellar temperature, so it was only chilled to 55-60 degrees. The beverage was served either from a wooden cask or a bottle. Wooden casks served beer flat because the casks could not retain the pressure needed to carbonate beer. Beer stored in bottles in the 18th century could create carbonation levels similar to those found in beer today.

A Colonial Williamsburg admission pass or a Good Neighbor card provides access to enjoy these programs.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121