Exploring York: City Built on Chocolate

27 Feb 2018
Yosea Kurnianto Social Media Ambassador

It’s been weeks after Valentine’s Day (of which one of its symbols is chocolate), but the Chevening event in York to explore chocolate’s story was done really well.

It seems that chocolate and Chevening Scholars community have similar ‘ingredients’: love, joy, kindness, and happiness – only without cocoa!

Around 50 Cheveners from various cities came to the University of York on Friday, 23 February to explore York’s Chocolate Story. The scholars were welcomed by the University of York, and started the event with a lecture from Joanna Pollard. Joanna shared some important points related to the history of York with its chocolate industries. It’s been told that the world’s oldest recipe for solid chocolate was found at a shop on Coney Street in York. 14,000 people worked making chocolate in York in the mid-twentieth century. Rowntree’s, Craven and Terry’s were the biggest names in York Chocolate until Nestle took over Rowntree’s in 1988 and still operates in York today.

Joanna has been involved in the Fairtrade campaign for over ten years, has run her own Fairtrade business for twelve years, and has been a member of the York Fairtrade Forum for four years. Thus, after sharing some important and interesting historical information about York and its chocolate industry, she shared her thoughts and experiences related to Fairtrade issues in chocolate industries.

In her business, Divine Chocolate, there are ten principles of fair trade that always need to be applied. Those principles are:

  1. creating opportunities for disadvantaged producers
  2. transparency and accountability
  3. fair trading practices
  4. payment of a fair price
  5. no child labour or forced labour
  6. non-discrimination, gender equity, and freedom of association
  7. good working conditions
  8. capacity building
  9. promoting fair trade and
  10. respect for the environment

The scholars had a good lunch before continuing to explore and to experience the chocolate story in York’s Kings Square. After a few minutes’ drive, the coach brought us to York’s Chocolate Story. In groups, the scholars started from the second floor where the guide told a story about the beginning of chocolate industries in York. It was explained that some of the world’s most well-known chocolate brand were started in York.

As stated at visityork.org: ‘Rowntree’s created Kit Kat, Smarties and Aero, while Terry’s came up with the Chocolate Orange and the All Gold collection, and Craven's were famous for their French Almonds and Mary Ann Toffees. These global brands are inextricably linked with York’s social and industrial development.’

The guided tour continued to exhibit the process of making the chocolate from raw cocoa. The scholars happened to taste some of the original chocolates as well as trying to make their own chocolate lollipop. The tour ended with scholars enjoying hot chocolate at the café and a group photo.

At the very same place, the city just celebrated 250 years of Terry’s boxed chocolate assortment which also happened to be one of the world’s most iconic confectionery, the Terry’s Chocolate Orange. It has been 250 years, but chocolate remains a vital part of York’s past, present, and future.

‘The event was so wonderful because I previously thought that I would only get the story of chocolate, but it’s interesting to learn the role of supply chain in fair trade practices and how it promotes sustainability and supply visibility across the chains,’ said Muthiya from the University of Manchester.

Another scholar, Nun Tamsosakul from the University of Warwick was celebrating her birthday by joining the event and found that the event was really enjoyable.

Photo: Ton Nu Tuong Vy