Join the worldwide celebrations for Roald Dahl Day
on Friday 13th September 2019!
Every night after dinner, Roald Dahl would offer his fellow diners a chocolate from this little red box. Whether he was dining alone with his family or hosting a dinner party for friends, the red chocolate box invariably made an appearance after every meal.
As Roald’s wife Liccy Dahl says in the introduction to The Roald Dahl Cookbook:
“With the coffee he would place on the table a grubby plastic box crammed with chocolate goodies, irresistible to dogs, children and adults alike.”
This is that box. Once full of Smarties (which were the favourite of his dog, Chopper), Mars Bars, Milky Ways, Maltesers, Kit Kats and much more, it has been cleaned up and is now kept carefully in the Roald Dahl Museum archives.
After all, Roald took his chocolate very seriously indeed – just take a look at his proposed History of Chocolate…
Roald Dahl was such a fan of chocolate that he devoted a whole chapter to it in The Roald Dahl Cookbook. He begins by saying:
“My passion for chocolate did not really begin until I was fourteen or fifteen years old…”
In the chapter he goes on to explain that, as a boy, there was not enough choice by way of chocolate bars to tempt him and so it was sweets that were his downfall – as Mrs Pratchett in Boy: Tales of Childhood came to know only too well.
From these humble beginnings, The Roald Dahl Cookbook charts Roald’s growing love of chocolate. This chapter also features his infamous History of Chocolate – a list of the most important dates from what Roald called the “seven glorious years, between 1930 and 1937.”
“Cadburys made Dairy Milk in 1905
Cadburys made Bourneville Bar in 1910
Cadburys made Fruit and Nut in 1921…
1930 the Crunchie, the Whole Nut Bar
’32 Mars (600 million a year)”
’33 Black Magic
’34 Tiffin, Caramello
’36 Maltesers… Quality Street
’37 Another great year, Kit Kat, Rollo [sic], Smarties…”
He ended by saying: “Don’t bother with the Kings and Queens of England. All of you should learn these dates instead. Perhaps the Headmistress will see from now on that it becomes part of the major teaching in this school.”
On the table in Roald Dahl’s Writing Hut, right next to the chair where he sat to write many of his famous stories – including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – there is a collection of strange and wonderful items, some of which are particularly curious.
One of these is what appears to be a cannonball. It’s grey and fits into the palm of one hand. It looks like it would be quite heavy.
It’s not a cannonball, though. It’s actually chocolate wrappers. Hundreds and hundreds of silver foil wrappers that were originally used to keep a chocolate bar nice and fresh. Just like the wrappers you get around Kit-Kats, underneath the red packaging.
When Roald was working for Shell Oil in London, before he set off on his adventures in Africa and then on to the Second World War, he often used to have a chocolate bar with his lunch. Every time he had a chocolate bar he would add the wrapper to his growing collection. The first one he wrapped up into a little ball, and then every time he had another he would wrap it around the one from the day before, and so eventually the little ball of silver foil wrappers grew larger and heavier and took on the cannonball-like appearance it has today.
Roald kept this collection of chocolate wrappers on the desk in his Writing Hut along with other things that inspired him, or reminded him of his earlier days. If you’re ever in The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden you can see it for yourself. Maybe he was looking at it while he wrote some of the scenes in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? We certainly know he liked chocolate very much himself…