Happy Easter from York, the home of chocolate. We hope the Easter bunny has been particularly generous to you this year. We know it’s a shame that you can’t come to the chocolate city right now, but York’s chocolate heritage will still be here for you to discover when this is all over. Take a look at our Chocolate Trail pages to get you egg-cited about future visits.


In the meantime, here’s some sweet, sweet chocolate facts to keep you going:

Is chocolate a food? This simple question was the subject of a fierce debate when chocolate was first popular on the continent, before chocolate bars had been invented, because the cocoa drink was so popular among a particular group of people: monks. When fasting, should they also forgo this brilliant beverage? The Dominicans thought yes, chocolate counts as food. The Jesuits thought no, chocolate is a drink. In 1662 the Pope had to intervene: chocolate was not a food. So if you’re cutting back on tasty treats, perhaps melting your Easter eggs and gulping them down in liquid form doesn’t really count as an indulgence.

Did you know, York is the only place to have ever successfully produced 100% British chocolate? In 1932, some Rowntree’s workers’ experimentation resulted in one cocoa tree being grown in a hothouse, which then went on to produce just one cocoa pod. The beans from this pod were ground down to make one small chocolate bar. This was presented to then Princess, now Queen, Elizabeth. This makes the Queen the only person to have tasted 100% British chocolate. How’s that for an #OnlyInYork experience?Chocolate is now a broadly universal treat, but this wasn’t always the case. Chocolate used to be an exclusive extravagance, that only the very rich could afford. In the 1930s, one of Rowntree’s boxes of chocolates could cost as much as 100 shillings. The rent for a week in a York slum, the sort of place a Rowntree’s worker could expect to live at the same time, was just 10 shillings!One of York’s most famous exports around the world is, of course, the humble Kit Kat, originally named Chocolate Crisp. It was developed to address the problem above - the wafer padded out the chocolate making it cheaper, so workers could get their cocoa fix without breaking the bank. At the outbreak of WWII, milk was less available due to rationing, so Rowntree’s developed a new recipe with darker chocolate. It was at this point that the name Chocolate Crisp lost prominence and Kit Kat came to the fore. What didn’t last was the blue wrapping, which Rowntree’s used to highlight that this was a temporary product and not the beloved original.

We look forward to welcoming you to the chocolate city, but only once it's safe to do so. In the meantime please follow our Social Media channels for more inspirational content and sign up to our newsletter for the latest information on visiting once the current situation is over.