The Heritage Chocolate Society celebrated its annual meeting on February 27-28 in Washington, DC and awarded six Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grants at its annual gala at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Hosted by Mars Wrigley and AMERICAN HERITAGE Chocolate and established in 2003 by American history advocate Forrest E. Mars, Jr., the Heritage Chocolate Society was created to further the study of chocolate’s diverse history and its impact on society and culture. The meeting also provided valuable knowledge and insights from a variety of experts to inspire and equip historic sites and museums in an ever-changing world.

Attended by leaders from the nation's most treasured and iconic institutions, this year's meeting, The Future Decoded: What You Need to Know Now, focused on sparking dialogue and planning by shedding light on the all-important effort to reach and engage with a younger audience, the post-pandemic impact on human behavior and consumer trends, the rise and usage of AI, and how to bring the growing popularity of immersive experiences to bear at their locations. Additionally, previous recipients of the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grant are asked to present the results of their grant funded programs.

“Every year, Mars strives to create a diverse agenda that evokes new thought leadership as well as provides actionable take-aways for attendees to use at their historic sites and museums,” says Kelly Lynch, director, brand marketing and media, Mars Wrigley Premium Brands. “This gathering enables guests to come together, share ideas and think critically about the future of their organizations and the role they play in preserving and sharing American history for future generations.”

The highlight of the meeting each year is its Annual Gala and Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grant Awards presentation. Created in 2013, the Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Chocolate History Grant was born out of early Heritage Chocolate Society meetings and established as a vehicle to encourage and fund chocolate research, education and historical discovery. All grant funded programs are selected by their unique nature as well as their project reach and impact. To date there has been over $500,000 in grant funding awarded. This year Mars and AMERICAN HERITAGE® Chocolate awarded $78,000 in grants to the following institutions:

  • The Fort Ticonderoga Association
  • Conner Prairie Museum
  • Montana State University
  • University of Florida Board of Trustees
  • New-York Historical Society
  • Virginia Museum of History and Culture

AMERICAN HERITAGE Chocolate plans to continue to award grants on an annual basis and the submission period for the 2024 awards begins on August 30, 2024.