Mars 2014 Chocolate History Research and Investigative Studies Grant winners
Grant winners Joanna Roberts and Darlee Snyder of Old Salem Museum & Gardens; Lisa Acker Moulder of The Betsy Ross House; Brian Nagel, Pat Mead and Sarah Ledtke of Genesse Country Village & Museum. Photo provided by Mars Chocolate North America.

For budding chocolate historians, or anyone wondering about the origins of their favorite candy bar, Mars Chocolate North America is again helping cocoa lovers find a place to experience chocolate’s past for themselves without the need for a time machine.

The chocolate company recently awarded three living history sites with the 2014 Chocolate History Research and Investigative Studies Grant.

One winner, the Betsy Ross House/Historic Philadelphia Inc., was named for its 18th-century kitchen exhibit and demonstration project.

Another, the Genesee Country Village & Museum in Mumford, N.Y., was honored after it expanded its chocolate history program to include new presentations and enhance the visitor experience year-round.

Finally, the Old Salem Museum and Gardens in Winston-Salem, N.C., worked on a research project about an 18th-century Salem resident who purchased and sold chocolate in the community.

Each winner showed innovation in its chocolate history programming.

“At Mars, we encourage the ongoing study of the unique role chocolate has played in our heritage and how it will impact our future,” says Harold Schmitz, chief science officer of Mars Inc. “This year's grant winners exemplify that cause and are paving the way for more historic site visitors to touch, taste, see and smell chocolate's rich history firsthand.”

Schmitz and Mars chief agricultural officer Howard-Yana Shapiro awarded the grants at the Colonial Chocolate Society’s banquet last week. The Colonial Chocolate Society aims to further the study of chocolate’s history and legacy in the Americas.

Fort Ticonderoga, Old North Church Foundation, Ball State University and Old Salem Museum and Gardens received the grant last year, the inaugural year for the award. Each made presentations on how they used those funds to meet their goals.

Organizations can submit for consideration for next year’s grant in summer 2015 through American Heritage Chocolate, Mars’ line of products based on recipes from the 18th century. The brand also sponsors events that feature demonstrations or sampling to educate consumers on chocolate’s place in American history.

American Heritage Chocolatewas born out of a Mars initiative to unearth chocolate’s origins. A group of experts from a variety of backgrounds published “CHOCOLATE: History, Culture, and Heritage” in 2009 that detailed their historic research. The product line, started in 2006, is based off an ingredient list from 1750 and celebrates the role of chocolate in colonial Americans’ lives. Products include chocolate sticks, chocolate bites, chocolate baking/grating blocks and chocolate drink mix.