York’s Chocolate Story

By Michelle Rawlins

As well as its fascinating history and beautiful surroundings, there is yet another reason to visit the the magical city of York – chocolate!

It’s well known the Rowntree family brought the original sweet confectionery to the city in the mid 19th century and created an industry that is still thriving to this day.

But this fabulous tour brings the story to life. It begins in an old cobbled street where an experienced guide informatively explains how chocolate first arrived in England over 300 years ago. The earliest known confectioner in York, was John Reilly in the 17th century followed by one of the most well know women in the city’s history, Mary Tuke, who owned her own shop from around 1725, trading in tea, coffee and cocoa.

What follows is a series of fun films, including an amusing digital chat between the founders of York’s most famous chocolatiers including the Rowntrees, the Frys and Terry’s.

Of course along the way there are plenty of chocolate samples on offer – everything from cocoa nibs, to very first take on a chocolate drink – I warn you it’s not to everyone’s taste. But for those who aren’t a fan there are handfuls of the world famous Quality Street on offer.

Once the historical side of the tour is complete, it’s time to discover how chocolate bars are created from cocoa. Children get to touch screens and eat yet more chocolate.

There’s also mini lesson on how to taste chocolate like a pro – and thankfully unlike when sampling a good wine, you are allowed to swallow it.

And if that isn’t enough – little ones are then invited to make their own white chocolate lollipops and let loose on oodles of toppings. This in particular was a huge hit with my eight year old son, Archie and my little girl, Tilly, 2.

While they set, we discovered how chocolates are filled with fillings and were told we couldn’t leave until all 32 were eaten between the 10  of us in our group – something my husband was happy to help with.

And if you are still tempted by some sweet delights after all of that, there is a small yet adequate cafe where you can enjoy anything from a well made coffee, a selection of cakes and of course a hot chocolate

There’s also a reasonably priced little shop, that has all the sweet treats you would imagine as well as souvenir style gifts for those who are visiting the city as a tourist.

All in all a great little attraction. It may not be as huge as Cadbury’s World in Birmingham or have the same pull, but after visiting both, I would much rather spend a morning here. It really is a credit to York’s history and I feel sure will be enjoyed by young and old alike.

To book a place on the tour visit www.yorkchocolatestory.com

Prices start at £8.50 for children & £10.50 for adults.

Check out Michelle’s twitter account @MRawlins1974

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