Chocolate Travels from the Arctic to the Middle East

British military ration pack

British military ration pack

Chocolate bars are known to be the fuel of choice among many athletes today including hikers, mountain climbers and those rowing across great bodies of water to set records.  Did you know that chocolate was also taken as a staple on early Arctic expeditions?  The provision lists for these Arctic expeditions was pretty standard.  The provisions taken on every Arctic expedition in the 19th century included arrowroot, dried meat, pemmican (A mixture of fat and protein. The meat was often bison, moose, elk, or deer.), dried soups, tea and chocolate.   Condensed milk was added to the list on occasion to make hot chocolate, but the chocolate was mostly eaten as is or in the Aztec and Mayan way of heating it with hot water until it melted.  The British explorers thought chocolate every morning was of more benefit to the diet than that of tea, but they usually took both.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Sir John Franklin brought chocolate from England to the Canadian Arctic.  During his expeditions, Franklin demanded what he thought to be crucial provisions that included 60 pounds of coffee, 110 pounds of tea and 180 pounds of chocolate.  It’s nice to know where his priorities were!  Found in Franklin’s diary were notes that he found chocolate to be both restorative to his men, it gave them energy and that it traveled well.  He often insisted that his men drink or eat chocolate for breakfast to sustain them through the day.  Chocolate was also a common treatment to avoid hypothermia.

Franklin disappeared during another Canadian expedition in 1845.  Those looking for the team of Arctic explorers also packed provisions exactly as Franklin had on what would be his last expedition.  From 1847 to 1859, numerous expeditions searched for Franklin and the lost team with no luck. Francis Leopold McClintock was the last explorer who set out to find remains of the missing team of explorers.  When reaching King William Island, McClintock found relics, supplies, human remains and the records of Franklin’s expedition.  Among the supplies were tea, pemmican and forty pounds of chocolate.

Even now in the 21st century dark chocolate  is a permanent feature in military ration packs of UK, USA, Germany, France, Denmark, Canada and Italy – countries that must spend huge sums on R&D to develop the perfect nutrition delivery for their armed services.

Arctic Mudslide Recipe


  • 1 shot Vodka
  • 1 shot Kahlua
  • 1 shot Creme de Menthe
  • 2 Scoops Ice Cream
  • 1 shot Jack Daniel’s
  • 1 shot Irish Cream
  • 1 shot chocolate syrup
  • Top With Whipped Cream and Nuts


  1. Put all alcohol into blender with about 8 or 10 ice cubes.
  2. Blend until smooth. In a tall glass, put in a couple scoops of ice cream.
  3. Add the alcoholic mix to the ice cream.
  4. Add chocolate syrup, whipped cream and nuts in that order.
  5. Enjoy!

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