Mocha Dick is purported to have been a real sperm whale that terrorized whaling crews in the 1830s. Some scholars believe he was the inspiration for Herman Melville’s great white whale, Moby-Dick. Beyond this obscure reference to mocha, is there any connection between 19th century American Whaling and chocolate? It turns out there is. Chocolate will be the subject of “Valentine’s Day II – Chocolate Day,” with four free public lectures by chocolate experts, demonstrations in colonial chocolate-making and sampling on Saturday, February 25, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Chocolate became a highly regarded addition to ship’s fare on whaling and merchant vessels according to a recently published book, “Chocolate: History Culture and Heritage.” Three of the book’s contributing authors will present illustrated lectures and demonstrations on chocolate. Learn where chocolate comes from, how it came to colonial New England, and how cocoa was made in early America.

The day’s activities are sponsored in part by American Heritage Chocolate® – part of the historic division of Mars, Incorporated – which manufactures chocolate products using authentic colonial recipes made only from ingredients available during the 18th century, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, chili pepper, orange and vanilla. To ensure historical accuracy, Mars conducted extensive historical research on chocolate, working with the University of California at Davis. Over 150 researchers and historians from historic sites and universities across the globe contributed to the 1000-page textbook – considered a definitive reference on the history of chocolate and its development as a global industry. Edited by Louis E. Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro, and published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., copies of the book, signed by the authors, will be available at the Museum store. American Heritage Chocolate will also be available for sale.

Timothy D. Walker, Ph.D., will present "A History of Chocolate: Where it comes from and how it was made in early New England" at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater.

Dr. Walker is an Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he is also the Fulbright Program Advisor for faculty and students. He has served as Associate Director of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, is a member of the graduate faculty of the Department of Portuguese Studies, and is an Affiliated Researcher of the Centro de História de Além-Mar (CHAM), Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. A New Bedford resident, Dr. Walker was recently named a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow.

Christopher Kelly will present: “Chocolate at Sea: Use Aboard Whaling and Merchant Ships in the 19th Century,” 1:00 p.m. in the theater.

Christopher Kelly is a writer, musician, and filmmaker from southeastern, Massachusetts. A graduate of UMass Dartmouth’s History program, he spent 2006-2007 conducting research on the use of chocolate aboard nineteenth century New Bedford whaling voyages that ultimately culminated in a chapter in the book, “Chocolate: History Culture and Heritage.”  He currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Rodney Snyder will present “Chocolate is American History” at 2:00 p.m. in the Cook Memorial Theater.

Rodney Snyder is the Chocolate History Research Director for The Historic Division of Mars. He has been researching cocoa for Mars, Incorporated for more than 25 years.  In his quest to locate the best tasting cocoa beans, he has visited all of the major cocoa growing regions such as West Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and South Asia.  After having roasted every type of cocoa, he can identify the origin of cocoa beans by their flavor and aroma.  He is the author of "From Stone Metates to Steel Mills: The Evolution of Chocolate Manufacture," a chapter included in the book.

Admission is free to Valentine’s Day II – Chocolate Day, which takes place in the Jacobs Family Gallery and the Cook Memorial Theater. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Regular admission rates apply to the Museum galleries. Chocolate Day wraps up a week of school vacation week activities.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales, whaling and the cultural history of the region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown and is open daily.

Press release issued on Februrary 15, 2012