As American as German Chocolate Cake

In spite of its popularity, German Chocolate Cake has not been in existence nearly as long as one might think, although its beginnings date back to the late 1800’s when Milton Hershey, who owned the nation’s leading caramel company at the time, got a great deal on a German-made chocolate making contraption at an exposition in Chicago.  The machine was used to give his, already popular, caramel delights an even more enjoyable chocolatey exterior.

As Milton Hershey perfected his new venture, he began to focus more and more on chocolate, so that by the late 1920’s he was putting over 50,000 pounds of cocoa into the market per day.  His method for churning out milk chocolate in bars was revolutionary and was so affordable, that the U.S. Military found themselves feeding it to our troops in the form of a ration called a “Ration D Bar.”

Over the years, the original machinery that Milton Hershey had purchased back in 1893 had become quite obsolete in this new modern era. So, by 1942, when the scrap metal collection efforts of World War II were under way, the machinery found itself to be possessed by the United States Army. Realizing what it was, and considering it of practical use, the US Army spared it from being melted, although it sat unused for most of the war. It was a soldier named Jesse Pender, who worked in the mail room, that finally flipped the machine on.  He had worked as a cook in a brothel before entering the service, and had a knack for figuring out such contraptions.

At first he was just able to make variations of bitter chocolate syrups for his fellow soldiers in the 491st Amphibious Truck Company, but over time, he began to perfect his new hobby, creating thick delicious chocolate. He used the chocolate as the base ingredient in a cake that he used to make for customers of the brothel that he called, “Wet and Ready,” however he felt that name might not play as well outside the house.  Seeing that the manufacturer’s plate on the machine read, “Made in Germany,” he simply decided to call his creation German Chocolate Cake.

Of course almost every bit of all of that is absolute fact, up until the point that I combined them together. At that point it becomes a complete fabrication.  I’m sorry. If you had somewhere to be while you read that, I’ll feel really bad, but German Chocolate Cake was really invented in the ’30s by some American guy named Sam German and I just got really bored! Sure he was a chocolatier, and there’s still a whipped cream named for him, but he’s no Milton Hershey.

German Chocolate Cake was a bit much for me to make on a Monday. I really didn’t want to have to make it, what with the coconut icing and the layering and all. But, as seems to be the case with this list, the most commonly available things for purchase find a way of not being around the day they’re due for me to eat

I knew I’d seen it all the time at Publix, though, so I called all six of them annd found it…  Suckers!  German Chocolate Cake is that perfect kind of chocolate richness that makes your cup of milk hit a whole different level of teet. Of course, I wound up having to buy a whole cake, but the folks at work won’t complain I’m sure when I set the rest of it in the break room tomorrow morning.

See you Tuesday for National Peanut Butter Cookie Day.

About Jim Clark

"If it was worth doing, then it is worth writing!" -- Jim Clark -- Someone else probably said that before, and I'm sure that each semester she starts her Creative Writing 101 class by writing it on the board, but I never took that lady's class so I am taking her quote! I work in the world of advertising, but I write for a living. Here in the second decade of the '00s, we find ourselves in a culture where virtually everyone writes for a living. With all the clicking and clacking on Facebook, Twitter, emails and texts, our lives are more than ever intertwined with writing. At the same time, it's also become increasingly more important to shorten our thoughts down to as few characters as possible. So, now, more than ever, I think it's also important to hold a place in our lives for expanding and honing our thoughts through writing. This is my place for that.
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