As World War I broke out George Payne & Co of Tower Bridge, London, was brimming with patriotism. It advertised Civic Cocoa manufactured in London from cocoa from the empire, with a trial pack and an illustrated book, under the slogan "What we've got, we'll hold. What we've not, we're after."
Lincolnshire cocoa maker Welco urged customers to "support home industries", and offered coupons in its tins, 24 of which could be exchanged for a box of its Rothwell's Butterfly Chocolates.
Feelings were running high in a nation at war, and German goods were widely boycotted. This extended also to companies with Germanic names. An October 1914 advert in the Daily Mirror said: "Caution. The proprietors of Schweitzer's Cocoatina and Fairy Cocoa beg to inform their clients that none of their products are manufactured in Germany, they are a private English company, managed by a board of English directors."
For Eugen Sandow, being a Prussian selling cocoa based on a German recipe and having a German accent was highly damaging. He devised a promotion with an "offer to our brace lads at the front", using postcards which were to be handed out to customers buying his Health and Strength Cocoa. "The first 500 British or Colonial sailors or soldiers who post one of these cards from German territory will be entitled to nominate their wife, mother, sister or sweetheart as a recipient for a handsome silver-plated porcelain cocoa set. This offer does not apply to prisoners of war, but only to victors." Unfortunately the trench warfare turned out to be longer-lasting than the Sandow Cocoa Company, which went into liquidation in 1916.
Soldiers were writing home about Bivouac Cocoa, made by Thew, Hooker & Gilbey of Buckingham. Trooper Cyril Archer of the Royal Bucks Hussars sent two tins which had partially protected a horse from a bomb dropped by a German Taube aeroplane.
EXHIBIT - BIRMINGHAM 1914
In a striking example of humour in the face of adversity, Midland’s grocery chain Neales Tea Stores made a public announcement of its “remarkable discovery”. The Kaiser, it claimed, was planning to enter Birmingham in a desperate attempt to capture its 80 shops. German officials were said to have recognised the remarkable staying powers of Neales’ Cocoa and would use this to “stay” in England for a long time. Customers were advised to stock up before this could happen.