York’s chocolate story continues, even if former factories no longer exist

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

York Chocolate Story explores the city's rich confectionery heritage. Pic: Continuum Attractions
York Chocolate Story explores the city's rich confectionery heritage. Pic: Continuum Attractions

Related tags Cocoa Manufacturing York

I recently went back to my home city to see how York is recognizing its past as a major chocolate producer, and found that as one factory closes, another one opens, keeping the smell of cocoa in the air.

The history of York’s rich chocolate manufacturing heritage is explored in one of the city’s award-winning tourist attractions: York’s Chocolate Story​.

Situated in the heart of the city, the interactive exploration covers a three-storey building, is fully guided and begins with cocoa’s origin in exotic the rainforests of The Americas to the cobbled streets of York.

Much of the narrative (and museum items) are provided by former employees of Rowntree’s, Terry’s and Craven’s, many of whom not only found work, but future partners, wives and husbands on the factory floor.

The art of the chocolatier

The visit ends with an opportunity to learn the art of the chocolatier and a chance to sample products made on site, using cocoa supplied by Barry Callebaut.

York’s Chocolate Story opened seven years ago in March and has endeavoured to maintain the city’s proud reputation as one of the main chocolate producing areas in the world.

It’s importance will be felt greater in the city after news that The York Cocoa House is to close and move its operation across the city to The York Cocoa Works​, which is also continuing chocolate production with a small-scale, artisanal line of handmade chocolates.

Infographic - Yor's Chocolate Hostory

York Cocoa Works founder Sophie Jewett told local media: "The Cocoa Works has opened up so many exciting opportunities for us to bring stronger connections across the supply chain ....

"We came to realise that our energies are best focused making the most of these opportunities ahead and in creating one focused and outstanding chocolate destination for our visitors to discover and enjoy."

York Cocoa House chocolate shop opened in 2011 and York Cocoa Works, which includes a chocolate-themed cafe, last Easter.

While the old Rowntree’s factory is a former shell of itself in the east of the city, although it does still produce KitKats, Aero, Polo, Yorkie and the Milkybar under the Nestlé brand, Terry’s factory in the west of the city, is now home to luxury apartments.

Property developers have transformed the multi-storey factory, which opened in 1926, into 163 apartments covering 180,000sq ft. The art deco-style building has survived and forms part of the larger 14-acre Chocolate Works site that also includes the iconic Clock Tower, which overlooks York’s Racecourse.

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