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January 29, 2008

CW reveals "The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker"

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Colonial Williamsburg’s guests can learn the secrets of 18th-century chocolate-making. “The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” will be revealed in a special program in the Governor’s Palace Kitchen. Historic Foodways journeyman Jim Gay demonstrates why Colonial Williamsburg was named one of the top 10 chocolate-lovers’ destinations in the world by USA Today as he transforms roasted cocoa beans into colonial treats for 18th-century sweet-tooths on the first Tuesday of February, March, April and May.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Foodways programs preserve the processes of 18th-century food preparation by using documentary research and historically accurate tools and techniques to prepare and serve the foods consumed in colonial Virginia.

“The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” re-creates the chocolate-making process of colonial kitchens by roasting cocoa beans, shelling them and crushing them in a large mixing bowl. Using a heated grinding stone and an iron rolling pin, the beans are ground into a liquid and mixed with sugar and spices.

Unlike modern-day candy bars, 18th-century chocolate was served primarily as a hot beverage; and, along with tea and coffee, was a drink of choice for colonial breakfasts. The first recorded mention of chocolate in Williamsburg dates to the first decade of the 18th century, when College of William and Mary President James Blair noted serving hot chocolate to visiting Burgesses.

The same chocolate-making methods on display in “The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” are used to create Colonial Williamsburg’s and Mars Incorporated’s American Heritage line of chocolate products, which can 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. In addition to an authentic chocolate drink mix, guests may purchase chocolate sticks or chocolate bars that can be melted into a beverage or enjoyed on the spot.

“The Secrets of the Chocolate Maker” and other Colonial Williamsburg chocolate programs are supported in part by Forrest and Deborah Mars of Big Horn, Wyo., and the Mars Foundation of McLean, Va. The program will be presented from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 5, March 4, April 1 and May 6 in the Governor’s Palace Kitchen. Following a summer hiatus, the program will be presented at the same time and location Sept. 2, Oct. 7 and Nov. 4. A valid Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor Pass provides access to this program. Scheduling is subject to change.

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 theatre 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