Grant will help tell chocolate's historical role

What unique role has chocolate played in American history?

Faculty and students from Henderson State’s chemistry department and innovative media program are collaborating to share that information with middle and high school students.

Henderson chemistry professor Dr. Suzanne Neidhart applied for a Forrest E. Mars. Jr. Chocolate History grant, and learned recently that she will receive $5,500 for the project.

“The grant will help us produce educational materials, including videos, to explain the chemistry of chocolate in different historical contexts,” Neidhart said. “For example, I have a student who is researching the differences between ancient mesoamerican hot chocolate (elixirs) and modern hot chocolate.”

She said the project will target students in grades 5-12.

“I am excited to emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of this project, since it can’t be achieved without the cooperation of multiple parties,” Neidhart said.

The Forrest E. Mars Jr. Chocolate History Grant was created to support institutions dedicated to revealing the intrinsic role chocolate has played worldwide. Launched in 2013, the grant was named after the company’s owner and has a special emphasis on uncovering and sharing chocolate’s role in global history, as well as its influence on heritage and culture.

Mars has been making some of the nation’s most popular chocolate confections for more than 100 years, including M&M’s, Snickers, TWIX and 3 Musketeers.