Just when you’ve finished off the last morsel of Christmas fudge, out come the Valentine truffles – rich, decadent, mouth-watering chocolates. The sweet taste of chocolate appeals to both kids and adults, making it a popular gift for many occasions. February is a great month to celebrate the love of chocolate with your group. Here are some simple activities to elicit sweet memories throughout the month.
- Discussion: Pass around a bowl of small chocolate bars. Share some fun facts about the history of chocolate. Ask: What do you think of when you hear the word ‘chocolate’? Why do so many people crave it? Are you one of them? How often do you eat chocolate? Do you know any “chocoholics”? What do you recall about a nickel chocolate bar?
- Discussion: Celebrate the founding of Hershey’s Chocolate Company on February 9, 1894. Watch a DVD on the legacy of Milton S. Hershey, the “Chocolate King.” Share memories of the chocolate factory and theme park in Hershey, Pennsylvania – “The Sweetest Place on Earth.”
- Food Activity: Listen to Sammy Davis Jr sing “The Candy Man.” Ask participants to name some chocolate candy bars. (Examples: Heath Bar, Mounds Candy Bar, Milky Way, Mr. Goodbar, Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups) Offer small samples of some classic candy bars, and have your group guess the name of each treat. Ask if anyone ever sold chocolate bars as a fundraiser. Challenge your group to make their best sales pitch for buying chocolate candy bars. (Note: Include some sugar-free candy for diabetics.)
- Food Activity: Make some simple chocolate-dipped treats with your group, using marshmallows, pretzels, angel food cake cubes, strawberries or cherries.
- Food Activity: Talk about the texture, scent, and flavor of chocolate. Melt semisweet chocolate chips to create the smell of chocolate wafting through the air. Ask participants to share childhood memories of the warm, sweet aroma of chocolate in Grandma’s kitchen. (Examples: baking chocolate chip cookies or making a batch of Christmas fudge)
- Food Discussion: Discuss the health benefits of eating chocolate, especially the dark variety. Ask: Does chocolate improve your mood when you eat it? Who do you think eats more chocolate – men or women?
- Food Discussion: Share some inventive chocolate dessert recipes from the Depression era and World War II, when families had to deal with rationing and shortages of products such as sugar. (Examples: Chocolate Potato Cake, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, Chocolate “Depression” Cake) Ask: What food shortages do you remember during the war? How did your family cope with them? What did you learn from the experience of food rationing?
- Food Discussion: Share the history of the Pillsbury Bake-off Contest, which began in 1949. Find out how many Grand Prize winners used chocolate in their recipes. (Examples: Snapping Turtle Cookies in 1952 or Chocolate Cherry Bars in 1974) Ask participants which one of their chocolate dessert recipes they would enter in a bake-off.
- Activity: Find out the role of Hershey’s in creating a chocolate bar for soldiers’ rations during World War II. Invite a veteran to talk about the K ration for soldiers in the field. The ration included a Field Ration D bar (the famous Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar). Ask how the bar of chocolate helped the troops. Share memories of sending sweet treats to soldiers overseas.
- Activity: Listen to Bing Crosby’s rendition of “A Marshmallow World.” Talk about favorite things to do inside on a cold, snowy winter day. (Examples: make chocolate-chip cookies, listen to soothing music, work a jigsaw puzzle, read a good book) Sip hot chocolate with mini marshmallows.
- Activity: Look up and share chocolate records from the Guinness World Book of Records (ex: largest chocolate bar, largest chocolate sculpture). Check for details about the Kiss that weighed over 30,000 pounds. The treat was made in honor of the 100th anniversary of Hershey’s Kisses in 2007.
- Reminiscing: Show a vintage photo of a candy maker hand-dipping chocolates. Ask: Where did your parents buy candy (ex. general store, drugstore, candy store, five and dime, department store)? Did your hometown have any third-or-fourth generation family business owners, like a candy maker? What made them successful from generation to generation? Sample some old-fashioned chocolate crème drops.
- Reminiscing: Display a heart-shaped box of chocolates such as a Whitman’s Sampler. Ask: Have you ever given or received boxed chocolates as a gift? Describe the best piece of chocolate you ever ate. Was it expensive? Share memories of a special chocolate treat for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, or Christmas. Explain why chocolate is often associated with love.
- Humor: Share some funny chocolate sayings – “Seven days without chocolate make one weak.” Or “Anything tastes better dipped in chocolate.”
- Intergenerational Activity: Watch the 1971 movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, based on the 1964 children’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Snack on M&Ms candy.
- Valentine’s Day Activity: Share some fun facts about Hershey’s Kisses chocolates, introduced in 1907. Listen to kiss songs: “Candy Kisses,” “Gimme a Little Kiss,” “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now,” “Let’s Kiss and Make Up.” Pass out paper and pencil and then ask participants to describe their first crush, first date, or first kiss, but not to sign the paper. Collect the papers and read them to the group. Ask if anyone in the group believes in love at first sight.
CHOCOLATE TRIVIA QUIZ
- What is a chocolatier? Someone who makes and sells chocolate
- Which tropical tree is the source of chocolate? Cacao tree (cacao beans)
- Which classic chocolate candy bar has a name similar to a famous baseball player? Baby Ruth
- Finish this M&Ms candy slogan: “Melts in your mouth, not in your….” Hand
- Name the types of chocolate. Milk, dark, and white
- Which chocolate treat has a red fruit in its center? Chocolate-covered cherries
- What’s in a mocha drink? Coffee with cocoa
- Name some famous brands of chocolate. Hershey, Mars, Nestle, Lindt, Ghirardelli (other answers are possible)
- What kind of chocolate is used in a Toll House Cookie? Chocolate chip morsels
- Approximately how many calories are in one Hershey’s Kiss – 25, 35, or 45? 25
THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!” ~ Lucy Van Pelt in Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz
“CHOCOLATE LOVE” copyright 2013 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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