On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao

A book from Jewish Lights, SkyLight Paths’ sister imprint

Deborah Prinz draws from her world travels on the trail of chocolate to enchant chocolate lovers of all backgrounds as she unravels religious connections in the early chocolate trade and shows how Jewish and other religious values infuse chocolate today.

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz

6 x 9, 272 pp | w/ 20+ b/w photographs | 978-1-58023-487-0

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Take a delectable journey through the religious history of chocolate—a real treat!

Explore the surprising Jewish and other religious connections to chocolate in this gastronomic and historical adventure through cultures, countries, centuries and convictions. Rabbi Deborah Prinz draws from her world travels on the trail of chocolate to enchant chocolate lovers of all backgrounds as she unravels religious connections in the early chocolate trade and shows how Jewish and other religious values infuse chocolate today.

With mouth-watering recipes, a glossary of chocolaty terms, tips for buying luscious, ethically produced chocolate, a list of sweet chocolate museums around the world and more, this book unwraps tasty facts such as:

  • Some people—including French (Bayonne) chocolate makers—believe that Jews brought chocolate making to France.
  • The bishop of Chiapas, Mexico, was poisoned because he prohibited local women from drinking chocolate during Mass.
  • Although Quakers do not observe Easter, it was a Quaker-owned chocolate company—Fry’s—that claimed to have created the first chocolate Easter egg in the United Kingdom.
  • A born-again Christian businessman in the Midwest marketed his caramel chocolate bar as a "Noshie," after the Yiddish word for ҳnack.Ӽ/li>
  • Chocolate Chanukah gelt may have developed from St. Nicholas customs.
  • The Mayan ҂ook of CounselӠtaught that gods created humans from chocolate and maize.

“Bravo! ... Takes us on a roller coaster roll through the history of chocolate, from the beginning when it was only used as a drink to the present day.... A great read.”

Joan Nathan, award-winning cookbook author, Jewish Cooking in America; Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France; and other books

“A joy for history and chocolate buffs.... Traces the exciting and curious aspects of the evolution of chocolate. The reader is rewarded with fascinating nuggets of chocolate lore, as well as several yummy chocolate recipes.”

Carole Bloom, CCP, author, Intensely Chocolate and Truffles, Candies and Confections

“Meticulously researched and whimsically presented. Fascinating facts, amusing anecdotes and mouth-watering recipes.... An instant classic for chocolate devotees of all faiths!”

Francine Segan, food historian, chocolate expert and James Beard nominated cookbook author of Dolci: Italy’s Sweets

“Yes, separate milk from meat. And wool from linen. But do not separate Jews from chocolate. They shall be yoked together for all time. And now we have the definitive book on the topic, an eloquent and astutely researched history.”

A.J. Jacobs, editor-at-large, Esquire magazine; author of the New York Times bestseller, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, and other books

“This engaging journey into the extraordinary past of a much-loved product is packed with fascinating stories and thrilling bits of information.”

Claudia Roden, food writer and author of almost twenty classic works on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cookery; most recently, the award-winning The Book of Jewish Food

“Calling all chocoholics.... I devoured this book. Readers beware! Stash fine chocolate in your pack before setting off on this delicious journey across time and space.”

Pamela S. Nadell, Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History, American University; author, Women Who Would be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889–1985

“A treat! Part history, part travelogue, part cookbook, [it] ... will tantalize all readers and delight chocoholic ones.”

Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University

“A knowledgeable, surprising and, of course, delicious book. Chocolate lovers (and that includes just about everyone) and Jewish historians alike will be delighted.”

Leah Koenig, author, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook

“Fascinating and entertaining ... if you’re interested in Jews or chocolate, you’re gonna like this book. If you’re interested in both, you’re gonna love it :-). Like chocolate itself—wonderful as a gift, or you could just get one for you yourself.”

Nigel Savage, founder, Hazon: Jewish Inspiration, Sustainable Communities

“A fascinating ramble through the history of chocolate and the roles—sometimes central, sometimes peripheral—that Jews have played in bringing it from the forests of Africa and Spanish America to your table. The recipes are a tasty bonus.”

David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, authors, A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews

“A delightful, fascinating read full of history, religion, ethics, anecdotes and recipes that will make you hungry.”

Paula Shoyer, author, The Kosher Baker: 160 Dairy-Free Desserts from Traditional to Trendy

“Prinz is an engaging storyteller.... Her passion for all things Jewish and chocolatey is infectious. ”


“One-of-a-kind.... Interesting ... always sweet.”

San Diego Jewish World

“The first book to tackle the subject of Jews and chocolate at any significant length.... Lively and convincing.”

Jewish Daily Forward

Preface: Choco-dar ix
Introduction xvii
Part One: Forging the Jewish Chocolate Trail
1. Did Jews Introduce Chocolate to France? 3
2. The Inquisition: Chocolate Outed Jews and Divided Christians 17
3. Jews Dip into Chocolate in the American Colonial Period 37
4. Chanukah and Christmas Chocolat Melt into Gelt 59
5. Chocolate Revives Refugees, Survivors, and Immigrants 67
6. Israelis: Meshuga for Chocolate 85

Part Two: Other Religious Chocolate Revelations
7. Pre-Columbian Peoples Idolized Chocolate in Mesoamerica 99
8. Faith Diffused Chocolate around the World 113
9. Utopian Chocolate Saved Souls: From Cadbury to Hershey 133
10. Shopping for the Best Chocolate: Values and Ethics 147
Afterword 163
Additional Chocolate Recipes and Tips 165
Timeline of Chocolate and Religion 173
A Consumer's Guide to Buying Ethically
Produced Chocolate: What Is the Best Chocolate? 177
Chocolate Museums and Tours around the World 189
Notes 197
Glossary 223
Resources for Further Learning 225
Credits 227
Index 229
Index of Recipes 237