Your Chocolate Day Reading List

On July 7, you may (or may not!) have celebrated International Chocolate Day. Perhaps you simply forgot to place your chocolate eggs under the chocolate tree while the chocolate fireworks graced the sky. It happens to the best of us, forgetting a big deal holiday like that.

More likely, you got your various chocolate days confused. Turns out, there are several of them. The U.S. National Confectioners Association claims a different date for the celebration, September 13, to honor Milton Hershey’s birthday. There is also a menu of national chocolate days scattered across both globe and calendar: America’s 28 October, Latvia’s July 11, Ghana’s February 14. In fact, those folks at the U.S. National Confectioners Association offer 4 different dates for four different versions of chocolate day as well as supplemental days for milk chocolate, cocoa, white chocolate, and goodness knows what else.

A short and entirely unnecessary side bar here. I am (or may not!) have worked for the U S National Confectioners Association back in the days when I was an intrepid journalist. I had two writing gigs that may (or may not!)) been connected to this organization, one for Confectioner Magazine and another covering the International Candy Exposition. Yes, both of those were real things and, no, I do not believe either of them have survived. As near as I can tell, Confectioner was taken over by Confection and Snack Retailing magazine which in turn was taken over by Candy Industry magazine. Again, all real things and examples of the (to me) endlessly fascinating world of trade magazines. I mean, you have not lived until you have perused Parking Today, the official organ of the parking lot industry.

But to return to our topic, Chocolate Day.

No matter the where, when, and how of your individual celebrations, the Dillsburg Area Public Library has you covered. We have, in just books alone, more than 100 items on our shelves that respond to “chocolate” in a key word search with the actual number including ebooks and other formats being well over 400. I may (or, well, this joke has run its course)) have mentioned some of these in previous blog posts, but for the sake of sweet chocolatey goodness, we can risk the repetition.

The books ran the gamut of genres and categories, so there is no way I can list them all. In fact, instead of my usual method of listing either by author or title, I am going to list by theme.

1.) Milton Hershey. This being central Pennsylvania, I will of course start with Milton Hershey. The catalog tells me Dillsburg Library owns about a half dozen items, biographies of various types and for various audiences including children. But that is when the catalog is asked to search for Milton Hershey and not just Hershey. With that slight adjustment, the number of available items expands to over 100. This includes such gems as the Hershey’s Kisses Addition Book along with riveting sequels on subtraction and multiplication (could not locate the elusive division volume, alas). More grown-up fare includes Chocolate Wars (about the business battles between large candy companies) and the e-book Semisweet, about one individual’s time spent at the Milton Hershey School.

2.) Cookbooks. The catalog tells me Dillsburg Library owns 26 titles that qualify as chocolate related cookbooks, a number that is almost certainly an undercount. Goodness, if a cookbook has a section covering desserts, then it is going to have chocolate recipes between the covers. In other words, all the cookbooks are chocolate cookbooks. Well, maybe not all, but a good number. To test the theory, I randomly selected cookbooks that probably ought not have anything to do with chocolate to see if they held at least one chocolate recipe. Chowderland, a book about seafood soups and stews, has a chocolate tart recipe. I found a paleo cookbook with dozens of chocolate concoctions although stone age humans were notoriously bad at dessert. On the opposite side of the spectrum, we do own a book called Everything Chocolate which, I am guessing, has some chocolate ideas.

3.) Mysteries. It is possible that we have as many chocolate-based mysteries as we do book on cooking with chocolate. These are mysteries of the “cozy” variety, and I have written about them for this blog several times. Generally, you get a situation in which an improbable person, often tied to an improbable job, gets improbably involved with crime and, again improbably, can solve the crime better than trained and experienced professionals. Thus, we have bakers, candy shop owners, creamery proprietors, and coffee shop managers one-upping the police force left and right. You would maybe be surprised how often chocolate is involved. Joanna Fluke, for example, serves up Chocolate Cream Pie Murder, Fudge Cupcake Murder, and Double Fudge Brownie Murder.

4.) Kid’s books. Well, of course there are going to be a great many of these. There are far too many to count, and they appear in all the categories of items we have available: easy reader books, chapter books, picture books, etc. Keep in mind, we have a separate section for holiday books. Among those books: Halloween books, at least 100 covering the elements of “trick or treat”, the treat often being chocolate. There is a batch of Easter books and 90% of those books have an Easter basket on the cover. What is in that basket? Chocolate!

5.) Business books. Frankly, I am not sure that is the correct genre. I imagine most folks think about management techniques and the proper use of spreadsheets when it comes to “business books”. Instead, this might be better called business history. After all. it was once said that the business of America is business (President Calvin Coolidge), so the story of business is also America’s story. Thus, we have books like the previously mentioned Chocolate Wars which relates the 150-year battle between Milton Hershey (and his company) and Forest Mars (and his company) as well as a few companies from other nations, like Cadbury’s. Closely related, Dillsburg Library owns a copy of book called Sugar by James Walvin. Without this commodity, very few of would consume chocolate and the story of sugar is a centuries-long epic.

Even though this list is unwieldy, it could have been worse. Additionally, I searched the catalog using “candy” as a key word and got another 40-plus responses. My search for dairy cows (the milk of milk chocolate) was not successful. I was also very tempted to include a book on factory tours, central PA being home to several chocolate-based excursions but concluded that recent events have played havoc with such outings. After the last 18 months, there is really no way to determine which factories still offer tours, if any.

But the chocolate books are available. Come to Dillsburg Library to get your hands on some sweet reading.

Craig Magee

Editor’s Note: My favorite Milton Hershey biography is called One of a Kind. I have (or had) a photo somewhere of two of these One of a Kind books side by side in a used book shop. – Keith