Mars celebrates confectionery heritage with chocolate history grant

Mars has unveiled details of its latest submissions for its 2024 Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grant until October, funding cocoa science, chocolate history research, as well as educational scholarships, reports Neill Barston.

As the business explained, the fund, which began in 2013, has to date made a total of 51 awards, totalling over $500,000 to historical, educational, civic and community organisations that have benefitted a host of community ventures and projects.

Among those to benefit so far, are  Montana State University (Bozeman, MT) for research into how Indigenous African peoples might have interacted with modern science to shape the evolution of the sustainable cocoa value chain. Westport Museum for History and Culture (Westport, CT) for a three part program that educates visitors about the colonial history of chocolate in New England. The organisation was also awarded a second grant for a series of research trips from Virginia to New Hampshire to uncover information about enslaved or Free Black Chocolate Makers in Early America for a book entitled, Cooking Up Freedom.

Furthermore, the Office of Historic Alexandria (Alexandria, VA) received funds for the expansion of its Junior Docent programme (originally funded from a Forrest E. Mars Chocolate History Grant in 2022) by including a historic chocolate demonstration component.

The Lewes Historical Society (Lewes, DE) also gained a grant for construction of an 18th century replica coffee, tea, chocolate exchange and demonstration area based on a historic, 18th century venue to be used for historical tours and social events.

In addition, the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper for Education (Tampa Bay, FL) gained a sum towards  creation and distribution of an original, standards-aligned, elementary-level curriculum supplement to 75,000 students in 5 school districts focused on the history, cultural significance and economic impact of chocolate, with a particular focus on the state of Florida.

There was also support for French Colonial America (Ste. Genevieve, MO) to create an after-school and weekend programme for elementary students about the history of chocolate and the cacao tree, the history of chocolate in Ste. Genevieve area, the evolution of chocolate flavors and a final musical performance.

“For 11 years, the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grant has funded over 50 innovative research and educational programs and experiences,” said Kelly Lynch, Director: Brand & Experience, Mars Wrigley Premium Brands. “This diverse group of recipients have uncovered previously unknown stories and facts about chocolate’s rich history and educated thousands of people about its impact on our nation and the world around us. We are honored to continue to fund these exciting and inspiring projects.”

Through its rich history and global impact, it is chocolate’s ability to inspire new research, uncover untold stories and connect past and present that inspires the grant. Submissions can be made on the American Heritage Chocolate website at

This artisan brand of confectionery has been developed from ingredients that date as far back as 1750, including its latest series of tasting squares (main image). Developed by Mars, the series Chocolate helps illuminate the stories from the region’s collective history. From chocolate’s deep roots in Mesoamerican culture dating back 3000 years, to its essential role as a food and medicinal source for European and Colonial Families, chocolate continues to be woven through global culture and pop culture even today.

The Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grant, has a special emphasis on uncovering and sharing chocolate’s role in global history as well as its influence on heritage, culture and science. Grant funds will be awarded for project(s) that investigate and/or educate on the history of chocolate and/or the chocolate making process, cocoa science as well as the anticipated audience reach. The scholarship process is competitive, and the awards will be made based on merit as judged by a panel of experts. Educational impact will be at the forefront of this decision process as will attention to equity, inclusion, and diversity in the proposal.

Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grant winners will be announced at the annual meeting of the Heritage Chocolate Society scheduled for February 27-28, 2024 in Washington, DC. The Heritage Chocolate Society is a group of history leaders and professionals formed in 2003 with the mission to uncover the collective history of chocolate, and share the stories of its cultural and socioeconomic impact to educate the global community.

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