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Behold: the royal chocolate inspector at work
Britain isn’t exactly known for its hot, steamy climate, making it a tricky choice for tropical crops (although certain UK vegetable farmers do just fine). The region’s somewhat mild, damp weather mean it’s nearly impossible to grow cacao trees, which require tropical conditions to thrive. No British-grown cacao trees means no British-grown chocolate—with the exception of one tiny bar, which landed in Queen Elizabeth II’s chocolate-loving gullet years ago. That makes the Queen the only person to have enjoyed a fully British bar of chocolate, reports a Bustle article published last week.
Bustle references a March 2020 episode of BBC Radio 4’s history podcast You’re Dead To Me, in which host Greg Jenner investigated the issue. Jenner found that only one cacao tree has ever grown in the UK. It sprouted up in a hothouse in 1932 after a group of Rowntree’s confectionary factory workers experimented with pineapple plants to better understand tropical growing.
Unfortunately, the workers were only able to harvest one cacao pod from the tree. They took the cocoa beans from the pod and used them to make a single tiny chocolate bar; they then presented the bar to Queen Elizabeth II, then known as Princess Elizabeth of York. Since then, no manufacturers have successfully produced cacao plants from British-grown plants (not for lack of trying), although Britain does serve as a hub for international movements of cocoa plants.