By: Alexandra Koktsidis
We know some of you chocolate lovers out there are thinking, well of course, who can't survive without chocolate?
But in all seriousness, there’s a history to the claim. Imagine being stuck on a lifeboat at sea. According to the officers of the United States Merchant Marines, the top items of importance for your survival – that is, until rescue, include: water, shark repellant, a shaving mirror, a fishing net and 2 boxes of chocolate. Who could have guessed?
Not only is chocolate a lifeboat ration: it finds a place in Air Craft rations, P.O.W. packages, and in the emergency survival kits of the Army, Navy, and Marines Corps.
The history of chocolate rations dates back to 1937, when U.S Army General Paul Logan, Hershey Company President William Murrie, and Hershey Chief Chemist Sam Hinkle set out to create a chocolate bar that would give soldiers the necessary energy for survival in times of starvation. They called it the Hershey Ration D Bar.
The bars were made of chocolate liquor, sugar, skim milk powder, cocoa butter, oat flour, and vanillin – a concoction that would withstand temperatures up to 120˚F. Vitamin B1 was also an added supplement. A reduced sugar component left the bars tasting “a little better than a boiled potato,” according to General Logan. Not to disappoint our chocoholics, but that would ensure that the bars weren’t too tempting for soldiers.
The bars weighed 4 ounces and were 600 calories. Easily transportable, that's for sure.
In June of 1937, Hershey’s manufactured 90,000 bars. By 1939, with the onset of war, Hershey’s produced 100,000 bars per day - that’s 24 million bars per week - to be distributed to troops in WWII.
Later on Hershey’s went on to create variations of the Ration D Bar, ones that were slightly better tasting, such as the Tropical Bar, the Congo Bar, and the Desert Bar. The Tropical Bar was introduced in 1943, and made its way to the WWII Pacific Front, Korea and Vietnam, and even got packed along with Apollo 15 Astronauts on their mission to the moon.
The Logan Bar is a nickname for the Ration D Bar, after General Logan.