American Heritage Chocolate Comes to Monticello

Mars makes $100,000 donation to preserve historic region

Published in CSP Daily News

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Mars Inc. has made a $100,000 donation to the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), an organization working to preserve historic Montalto (also known as Brown's Mountain), the mountainside that overlooks Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and other key historical areas in Virginia.

The PEC is a nonprofit agency that uses private donations to help land owners gain easements in order to permanently protect property from development. As part of a $3 million fundraising effort, the foundation is working to place a conservation easement [image-nocss] on 300 acres of property critical to the view shed of Jefferson's famous estate.

Monticello is also one of only five historic sites to sell American Heritage Chocolatethe country's first and only line of historically inspired chocolate products. The products were developed by Mars in conjunction with the Colonial Chocolate Society, a nonprofit group of researchers that studied the role chocolate has played throughout early American history. The line of products was made to give modern-day Americans a taste of the chocolate, made from authentic recipes, that the earliest Americans enjoyed.

American Heritage Chocolate was introduced at Monticello on June 23, 2006, with a demonstration depicting how chocolate was ground from roasted cocoa beans in pre-revolutionary times. The demonstration showed how bars of processed chocolate were grated, mixed with other ingredients and then heated over fire to make a drinkthe common way chocolate was consumed in the 18th century.

Records from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation show a connection between chocolate and the country's third president as far back as 1775. A reference in Thomas Jefferson's Memorandum Books note that he paid for three pounds of chocolate on July 31 and bought another 20 pounds in October. History also reports that, in 1785, Jefferson predicted that chocolate would prevail over coffee and tea in American preferences due to its superiority for health and nourishment.

Mars began testing selected authentic recipes and came up with a method to uniformly make these chocolates in larger quantities in order to make them available to the public. Making the chocolate is dependent on handmade techniques, and results in the irregular appearance and slightly gritty texture typical of the ability at the time to grind the cocoa bean, spices and other ingredients. The taste experience is unlike any modern day chocolate, the company saidrich in cocoa, spicy and slightly sweet.

Mars, McLean, Va., is committed to world-class scientific research, and created the Historic Division of Mars to explore and share an accurate historical account of cocoa and chocolate based on documented research.