Chocolate has played a role in both French and American history; here are a few fun facts to share with your friends while standing around the barbeque:
Napoleon always carried chocolate on his military campaigns, perhaps because the Parisian medical community recommended it as a cure for over 100 different ailments!
World War I brought chocolate on the American military scene when the U.S. Army commissioned American chocolate manufacturers to provide 20 - 40 pound blocks of chocolate to bases in the field. The blocks were chopped up into smaller pieces and distributed to soldiers in Europe. By the end of the War, the American chocolate business was booming; returning soldiers had grown fond of chocolate and they now wanted more as civilians.
By World War II, the U.S. government officially recognized chocolate's role for the Allied Armed Forces. It allocated valuable shipping space for the importation of cocoa beans, which would give many weary soldiers the strength to carry on with their duties.
Still today, the U.S. Army D-rations include three 4-ounce chocolate bars. Chocolate has even been taken into space as part of the diet of U.S. astronauts!
Before French Independence, Louis XIV, The Sun King, reigned over France for more than 74 years [1643 to 1715]. He is considered to be one of the greatest absolute monarchs. He also loved chocolate, which he made a regular part of his diet. It was well known that even as a 72-year-old, Louis made love to his wife twice per day. Could it have been the chocolate?