Heritage Chocolate Society 2019 Grant Winners

As part of its mission of education, Mars launched the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Research Grant in 2013 to encourage a deeper discovery into the influence of chocolate on global heritage and culture. A minimum of $50,000 in grant funds are awarded every year.

This year the Heritage Chocolate Society proudly announced the grant winners for 2019 in Orlando, Florida. Read more about the winners and how they plan to use their grants.

New York Historical Society
Our first grant winner submitted a proposal to research, develop, and deliver two chocolate-focused family programs: “Colonial Coffee, Cacao, and Tea” with living historians, and “Cacao with the Founders.” These programs will focus on chocolate history, recipes, and chocolate making in the colonial and new nation periods. The grant will be used to undertake broad research using the Historical Society’s extensive museum and library collections. Exploring history through the use of chocolate will engage their mission of exploring American History both locally and nationally, exploring characters of the past, encouraging intergenerational learning, and highlighting diversity.

The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History
The Smithsonian Institution Museum of American History is a first-time grant winner who will use the funds to expand their program, “From Bean to Drink: The Business of Chocolate.” The two components of the grant include:

  1. Conducting new research into chocolate history
  2. Engaging approximately 6,000 visitors during the summer of 2019, providing hands-on experiences in colonial chocolate making, and learning about the trans-Atlantic trade of cacao

The program experience will be delivered daily, from June through August, by a team of interns who will receive training on the museum’s methods of conversational interpretation and facilitation.

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse School of Education
The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse School of Education is also a first-time grant winner, who submitted a proposal to use the context of chocolate to motivate the learning of students in grades K-8 in 17 schools in Western Wisconsin and Eastern Minnesota. The story of chocolate will be integrated into the subject areas such as art, food science, language arts, math, science and social studies. The grant will allow teachers to provide lessons to rural and socio-economically disadvantaged students, and the materials will be adapted for use in English as a Second Language (ESL) classrooms.

The Betsy Ross House
The Betsy Ross House submitted a proposal to enhance visitor experience at their site with more opportunities to learn about the history of chocolate in the 18th century. The grant will enable the site to present chocolate through the eyes of four interpreters portraying working class women discussing the way that chocolate influenced their lives. The grant will also enable the site to host ten chocolate making demonstrations on key dates, reimagine their popular “Kid’s Kitchen,” and develop interpretive panels for older audiences to the more than 130,000 visitor the site attracts annually.

The Office of Historic Alexandria
The Office of Historic Alexandria submitted a proposal to evaluate and research 18th and 19th century primary source materials including ship manifests, merchant records, newspapers, traveler accounts, and private papers to determine the importation, sale, use, and consumption of chocolate by people in Historic Alexandra. They will identify resources and content for educational programs as well as enhance their current educational exhibits and programs, with an emphasis on children’s and family programs. The results of the research will create programs at several of the city’s historic properties.

We’re thrilled for these organizations to uncover and share the global influence of chocolate throughout the coming year. Interested in applying for the 2020 Forrest E. Mars Jr. History Research Grant? Apply here!