Choco­late mem­o­ries

From sea­sonal se­lec­tion boxes to bulging tins of Qual­ity Street, Katharine Woot­ton takes a sug­ar­coated jour­ney through the sweet his­tory of our favourite fes­tive choco­lates…

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De­spite stuff­ing our­selves with a full tur­key din­ner and Christ­mas pud, it still seems wrong if Christ­mas day isn’t rounded off with a gen­er­ous hand­ful or two of choco­lates. From the se­lec­tion boxes in our stock­ings to the manda­tory tin of choc­cies we have to have around the house ‘for guests’, choco­lates have be­come a sta­ple part of Christ­mas.

So as we head into the treat-munch­ing sea­son once more, we thought we’d look back to dis­cover where Christ­mas choco­lates first came from and how they’ve changed over the years. To help us, we spoke to choco­late guru Alex Hutchin­son, who is both an ar­chiv­ist for one of the big­gest choco­late com­pa­nies in the world and au­thor of a new fes­tive read, The Qual­ity Street Girls (writ­ten un­der the pseu­do­nym Penny Thorpe), all about life in a choco­late fac­tory at Christ­mas.

■ The Qual­ity Street Girls by Penny Thorpe is out now, rrp £12.99, pub­lished by Harper Collins

Choco­lates, often hand­made and in­tri­cately dec­o­rated, were once the pre­serve of the rich

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