Chocolate Coins: History and Traditions Around the World
Chocolate candy on its own is an awesome treat. However, when the chocolates are shaped, it makes them all that much more fun, such as chocolate bunnies at Easter, chocolate Santas at Christmas, among others. But among all of the shaped chocolates, chocolate coins are the ones that seem to be overlooked and forgotten.
More often than not, chocolate coins are wrapped in a faux gold foil wrapper with an intricate emblem stamped into it. But where did chocolate the idea to even create a chocolate coin come from? Take a ride down the chocolate river with us as we learn about the history of chocolate coins, as well as different kinds of chocolate coins all around the world.
The History of Chocolate Coins
The giving of coin currency as gifts on holidays appears all over history, even as far back as during the fourth century with the gold coins of Nicholas of Myra in Ancient Rome, who would become best known as St. Nicholas in the years to come.
Today’s modern Santa Claus was derived from St. Nicholas, who was actually a Christian bishop in what is now Turkey. St. Nicholas was revered for his kindness, generosity, and charitability. The most well-known story of all is when he helped to bring three young women out of poverty by anonymously tossing gold coins through their window, which would then land in the stockings they had hanging up to dry, until he was caught. This was the earliest tale of St. Nicholas giving gold coins as gifts in stockings.
Modern Jewish families celebrate Hanukkah with the giving of chocolate coins called gelt, and this has been a long-standing tradition since the 17th century. The preceding coins and modern chocolate coins were given to children to play dreidel with. Dreidel is a top with four sides, and it’s a variation of the teetotum, which is a European gambling toy.
Chocolate coins hit the United States in the 1920s, when candy making companies began to produce gold and silver foil-wrapped chocolate coins that were inspired by the stories of St. Nicholas and the celebration of St. Nicholas Day, celebrated in the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.
Loft’s was the first American candy company to pick up on and produce chocolate coin candy, going so far as to put the coins in little mesh bags made to resemble money bags. The next company to begin producing chocolate coins was Barton’s.
Chocolate Coins Around the World
Each part of the world has traditions and their own varieties of chocolate coins, ranging from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, so while they are different, they are something that brings all of us together in a sense. Chocolate is good for bringing people together and is an easy way for folks to honor timeless traditions in the most fun ways.
So, we’ll be revisiting a couple of countries in which we know the history of chocolate coins, but we’ll also be exploring other places and their types of chocolate coins and traditions that may go with them that are still practiced today.
In the United Kingdom, chocolate coins imitate the forms of real currency, such as pence and pounds, and as was the custom of St. Nicholas Day, these chocolate coins are given in stockings to children. They are also used to decorate the Christmas tree, and any chocolate coins found in the tree by a child was theirs to eat.
In China, it’s a tradition to give the children in your life their own Ya Sui Quan, which means Lucky Money, during the Chinese New Year. Using gold chocolate coins is one way that this tradition is honored, and there can be any number of designs embossed on them, from the symbol for good luck to dragons, to the animal represented that year in the Chinese zodiac. Blue, red, and silver foil are also used for some chocolate coins.
In the United States, while chocolate coins are available throughout the year in many stores, they are most highlighted during certain holidays, such as Halloween (after all, what young pirate wouldn’t love to get some gold coins in their candy bag?), Christmas, which follows the tradition of St. Nicholas Day to an extent, and St. Patrick’s Day, symbolizing a leprechaun’s pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Chocolate coins are embossed with just about any kind of design you can think of, mostly in gold but can also be found in silver, red, white, blue, and pink among others. Some are even made to look like Bit Coin!
Chocolate coins in Australia tend to more often than not be embossed to look like real Australian currency and is most likely to be wrapped in either silver or gold foil. Like other countries, Australians also put gold chocolate coins in the stockings of children just like St. Nicholas, and during the holiday season you’ll find many Aussies with a surplus of chocolate coins for their young Christmas participants.
Most countries and traditions follow along the same lines as the UK and Australia when it comes to chocolate coins, that being the traditions of St. Nicholas Day, either giving the candy on St. Nicholas Day itself or during the modern celebration of Christmas. Many of those of the Jewish faith around the world still use gold chocolate coins in their celebrations as well, especially for the children in order to play dreidel.
Chocolate Coins Are the Sweetest Currency Out There
No matter where you’re from or what your traditions are when it comes to chocolate coin candy, it seems we can all agree that it’s a tasty form of money that just about anyone would be happy to receive.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed checking out chocolate coins with us, and that if you’re curious, you’ll continue your research and learn all there is to truly know about this fun candy.