The Sweet History Of Chocolate In Advent Calendars

As a child, opening a new door on the advent calendar each day to count down the days until Christmas is an exciting tradition. Some advent calendars contain small pieces of chocolate in festive shapes, such as a bell or ornament, while other calendars are simply made up of pretty illustrations. Both versions easily capture the child's imagination and help to grow the anticipation for when Santa slides down the chimney.

While there is no official inventor of the advent calendar, History says Gerhard Lang of Germany first marketed an advent calendar in 1908, having been inspired by his experience as a boy when his mother affixed 24 cookies to a piece of board for him to eat as a countdown to Christmas. As an adult, the advent calendar that Lang sold through Reichold & Lang didn't include any sort of treat, but simply had little pictures hidden behind paper doors. After the company went bankrupt, Sankt Johannis Printing Company began to produce advent calendars, but it contained Bible verses hidden behind doors. 

When supplies became limited during World War II, the printing of advent calendars was suspended, per Mental Floss, but in the years after Richard Sellmer became the premier seller of the item. While advent calendars were popular in Germany and other European countries, they didn't really catch on stateside until President Dwight D. Eisenhower had his photo taken of opening the doors on one with his grandchildren. 

A new tradition

Again, the details are a little fuzzy about when exactly chocolate first was included in advent calendars, but it might have been in the second part of the 1950s, per History. However, the idea began to catch on more in 1971, when Cadbury began to mass product advent calendars with little chocolate Santas placed behind the calendar's doors. Nowadays, nearly every specialty candy store and grocery store stocks chocolate-filled advent calendars, but it wasn't until the 1990s that Cadbury began to continuously manufacture advent calendars with chocolate. Since then, a variety of chocolate makers have produced advent calendars, including Godiva, which sells their calendar for $40, according to Taste of Home. Other makers include Lindt, Williams Sonoma, and Harry & David. 

However, why stop at chocolates when other indulgent and fun treats can be placed in advent calendars, from bottles of wine to cat treats and Lego figures, according to a list on HuffPost. It really seems like every company has put its own take on the holiday tradition. Heck, there's even a Dolly Parton-themed advent calendar. Whether you opt to count the days to Christmas with chocolates, wine, or pretty pictures, you can't go wrong with an advent calendar.