As we have explored before, in great, painstaking detail, finding a food one can eat while driving is a decidedly non-trivial challenge. My research has shown that a human’s need to consume food actually pre-dates our ability to drive, and as such the problem of eating and driving has existed in the world of motoring from the very beginning. Solutions to this problem also date to the earliest days of motoring, and it’s one of these solutions I’d like to share with you today. A solution from the same candy-making source that gave the world the legendary Kit Kat. A solution called Rowntree’s Motoring Chocolate.
Before we go into the Rowntree Motoring Chocolate story, it’s worth reminding you of the perilous state of eating while motoring, which we can do via this scientifical film from Autopian Labs on the subject:
That’s very edifying, as I’m sure you’d agree. The problem was even worse at the dawn of motoring, when cars were far more complex to operate, including not just controls for steering, brake, throttle and shifting the transmission, but also manual spark advance, fuel richness and carburetor choke, oilers, manual windshield wipers, and much more. It was a big deal, and driving was even more physical then, meaning one would burn through calories even quicker, making on-the-road refueling for the driver as important as for the car.
So what was a 1910s motorist to do? Eat fistfulls of boiled mutton from a leathern pouch strapped to their chest? No, what are we, savages? The solution, at least according to Rowntree’s own (and I think largely fictional) Mr.York was something called Rowntree’s Motoring Chocolate.
As you can see from these old ads, Rowntree’s Motoring Chocolate was quite specifically targeted at drivers. Here’s how a website dedicated to the production of chocolate in York, England, describes it:
“The 1920’s saw a rapid explosion of chocolate bars for personal consumption or ‘count lines’ as they are still referred to today, Rowntree’s contributed the Kit Kat, Aero, and Mr York’s Motoring Chocolate – a chocolate bar that you would purchase when refueling your motor car.”
Advertising for Motoring Chocolate were more effusive, as you’d probably guess. Look at the copy in this ad:
” Have you got your Motoring Chocolate?”
” Of course I have, said the driver, “I never go out for a run without some. It’s a very good meal at the wheel. and it doesn’t make you thirsty.”
“You’re right,” said Mr. York. “Motoring Chocolate is made specially nourishing for motorists so that they can lunch in the healthy open air and enjoy every minute of the glorious sunshine.
Look at that! It doesn’t make you thirsty and lets you enjoy every minute of the glorious sunshine! Try doing that with your hunk of shit Snickers bar!
So, essentially, Motoring Chocolate just seems to have been a normal milk chocolate bar with raisins and almonds in it. It hardly seems revolutionary now, but I guess at the time cramming raisins and almonds inside a chocolate bar was enough to make that into a full-fledged meal, complete with all of the nut meat and desiccated grapes that a driving body needs.
Look at these ads! They’re so emphatically about motoring and driving, and it appears this agnostic regarding motorcycling or automobiling. Mr.York up there is riding that bar, complete with the three Hs: handlebars, horn, headlight – like it’s a giant, rectangular motorcycle.
Plus, they got actual cars and decorated them all to ornate hell to advertise these bars:
This thing is too heavily covered with what looks like fabric and icicles and gingerbread or whatever for me to positively identify it, and I think those are chocolate bars on the wheels. Did those things just get flung off wildly when this thing got rolling? Is that a weird skull-headed doll by the front fender? And why does it say “It’s fine said Mr.York Motoring” on the side? Does that make sense to anyone?
All of this is pretty amazing. Sure, this Motoring Chocolate wasn’t really any different than any candy bar someone pressed some trail mix into with the heel of their hand, and the reasoning used to qualify it as some sort of edifying meal-on-the-go is the same basic logic that a six-year-old would use to convince you that because chocolate cake has eggs and milk in it, it’s breakfast. The Motoring Chocolate is the ancestor of the Crunch Wrap Supreme and any other food with pretensions to be good for eating and driving, and for that reason alone, we should remember this forgotten cousin of the Kit Kat.
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