Unwrap the Chocolatey Secrets of York, England’s Cocoa Kingdom

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York's Chocolate Trail

This feature is brought to you by Global Explorer Monthly.

Ever found yourself mulling over how Yorkie bars came into existence? You see, York doesn’t just boast about its cobbled pathways like the Shambles or its grand medieval walls—both of which are pitching to land a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Nope, this English city has a much sweeter reputation—it’s dubbed the “Cocoa Capital of England.”

Rewind the clock, and you’ll find that confectionery behemoth Terry’s was born here as a modest candy store in 1767, and later, Rowntree’s sprang up in 1862. Fast-forward to today, and York is still churning out millions of chocolaty delights, including your beloved KitKats and Aeros.

Now, what’s the origin story behind Yorkie bars? Well, the year was 1976, and Rowntree’s chose to tip their hat to their hometown by naming this new treat after it. And let’s be real, considering the alternative names thrown into the hat were “Rations” and “Boulevard,” they pretty much nailed it with “Yorkie.”

For those whose love for cocoa knows no bounds, York offers a bonanza of chocolatey escapades. Mark your calendars for the annual five-day chocolate festival on Parliament Street every Easter. Year-round, the city is teeming with artisan chocolatiers whipping up small-batch concoctions. And for an in-depth journey, follow the York Chocolate Trail, which meanders through the city’s cocoa hotspots. We’ve zeroed in on six that you won’t want to miss.

  1. Impossible Wonderbar & Tea Rooms

Nestled within the original Terry’s of York factory complex, this swanky café-bar keeps the tradition alive. Their coffee is a symphony of chocolaty undertones, and they’ve got not one, but three, signature cocktails featuring chocolate—think a gin elixir that tips its hat to the legendary Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

  1. York’s Chocolate Odyssey

Step into the world of chocolatiers with guided tours that transport you from a recreated Rowntree’s grocery store to the artistry of today’s chocolate masters. Oh, and if you’re looking for sugar rush souvenirs, their on-site café and shop offer delicacies like rhubarb gin chocolate.

  1. Monk Bar Maestros

A York institution, Monk Bar specializes in crafting small batches of aesthetically pleasing and taste bud-tickling chocolates. All of it’s made right there in the shop, and let’s just say, their ‘chocolate shots’—melted chocolate in a chocolate cup—are a messy indulgence you won’t want to miss.

  1. York Cocoa Works

A socially conscious outfit, York Cocoa Works engages directly with cocoa farmers and vendors, operating under the maxim that ‘chocolate has to taste as good as the good it does.’ Witness the magic at their Castlegate factory, sign up for a tasting expedition, or enroll in a chocolate masterclass.

  1. Cocoa Joe’s

Your one-stop shop for customizable chocolate drinks, hot or cold. Pick your desired chunk of high-caliber chocolate and watch as it’s transformed into a steaming hot chocolate, a chilled iced chocolate, or even a mocha.

  1. Bettys Café Tea Rooms

Founded by a young Swiss chocolate wizard who arrived in England chasing his dreams, Bettys continues to enchant a century later with its range of chocolate gift assortments, pastries, baskets, and posh afternoon teas.

First seen in the UK & Ireland insert, accompanying the September 2023 issue of Global Explorer Monthly.

Want more? Subscribe to Global Explorer Monthly magazine here. (Limited to select countries).

And there you have it, folks. A chocolate tour of York so indulgent, you’ll leave the city a few pounds heavier—in more ways than one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about York’s Chocolate Trail

What cities in England are famous for their chocolate production?

York stands out as England’s Cocoa Capital and is famous for its long-standing tradition of chocolate production, including iconic brands like Terry’s and Rowntree’s.

How did Yorkie bars get their name?

Yorkie bars were named in 1976 by Rowntree’s as a tribute to their home city of York. The name Yorkie edged out other potential candidates like “Rations” and “Boulevard.”

Is there a special event dedicated to chocolate in York?

Yes, there is an annual five-day chocolate festival held on Parliament Street each Easter. This festival showcases various chocolate makers and offers a range of chocolate-themed activities.

What is the York Chocolate Trail?

The York Chocolate Trail is a curated route that takes you to key points of interest around the city related to its chocolatiering history. The article highlights six standout spots on this trail.

What are some specialty items offered by the chocolate shops in York?

Monk Bar offers ‘chocolate shots’—melted chocolate in a chocolate cup. York’s Chocolate Odyssey has a dizzying array of flavors like rhubarb gin chocolate. Cocoa Joe’s specializes in customizable hot and cold chocolate-based drinks.

Are there any socially responsible chocolate makers in York?

York Cocoa Works operates with the principle that ‘chocolate can’t really taste good if it doesn’t do good.’ They engage directly with farmers and traders to ensure ethical practices in their chocolate production.

Who should read this article?

This article is perfect for chocolate lovers, history buffs, and travel enthusiasts who want to explore the rich chocolatiering history of York, England.

Where was this article originally published?

This feature was first seen in the UK & Ireland insert, accompanying the September 2023 issue of Global Explorer Monthly.

How can I subscribe to Global Explorer Monthly?

You can subscribe to Global Explorer Monthly magazine through their official website. Note that the magazine is available in select countries only.

Are there any spots in York where I can both eat chocolate and learn about its history?

Yes, several spots offer both delectable chocolate treats and educational experiences. For instance, York’s Chocolate Odyssey has guided tours that go from a replica of the original Rowntree’s grocery shop to the craft of modern chocolatiers, along with an on-site cafe and shop.

More about York’s Chocolate Trail

  • Discover York’s Cocoa Works
  • Explore the Annual York Chocolate Festival
  • Visit the Iconic Bettys Café Tea Rooms
  • York’s Rich History and Chocolate Tradition
  • The Official York Tourism Website
  • Global Explorer Monthly Magazine Subscription
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the UK
  • Rowntree’s History and Legacy in York
  • Guide to England’s Food Tourism
  • Terry’s of York: A Sweet Journey Through Time

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ChocoFan101 September 5, 2023 - 9:04 am

Wow, never knew York had so much choco history! Definitely adding to my travel bucket list. I wanna try those choco shots, man.

JennyTheFoodie September 5, 2023 - 9:48 am

Rhubarb gin chocolate? That’s like music to my ears, or should i say taste buds haha! Awesome read, got me craving all sorts of cocoa delights.

HistoryBuff September 5, 2023 - 11:15 am

Cool that you mentioned UNESCO. With York’s medieval structures and chocolate legacy, it def deserves a spot. Fingers crossed!

SoccerMom22 September 5, 2023 - 2:30 pm

Took the kids to Bettys last summer, and it was a hit. Afternoon teas and choco treats, what more could you ask for. Might do the full trail next time.

TravelGuru September 5, 2023 - 6:29 pm

This is like Willy Wonka for grown-ups, lol! Great article, makes me wanna hop on a plane and follow that York Chocolate Trail right now.

TechNerd September 5, 2023 - 8:59 pm

Good to see places like York Cocoa Works are thinking bout ethical sourcing. Chocolate that tastes good and does good? Sign me up.


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