Scho-Ka-Kola is a German brand of bitter-sweet dark chocolate consumed for its strong caffeine and kola nut mix. The chocolates have a caffeine content of about 0.2 percent, which is derived from the cocoa content of 58 percent and the addition of 2.6 percent roast coffee and 1.6 percent kola nut. The chocolate is divided into wedges held in a round metal canister. The red-and-white container design and recipe have changed very little since the original launch in 1936.
Scho-Ka-Kola (for Schokolade–Kaffee–Kolanuss) was created in 1935 and patented by the Hildebrand, Kakao- und Schokoladenfabrik manufacturer, established by chocolatier Theodor Hildebrand (1791-1854) in Alt-Berlin. It was introduced at the 1936 Summer Olympics as a performance-enhancing energy "Sport Chocolate" (German Sportschokolade). It was also produced by the chocolate manufacturer B. Sprengel & Co. in Hannover, who in 1936 was recognized as an important pre-war economy operation, as well as produced by other German chocolate manufacturers.
World War II Wehrmacht-issue rations
In World War II, Scho-Ka-Kola was colloquially known as the "Aviator Chocolate" (German Fliegerschokolade), as it was commonly provided with Luftwaffe pilot and crew rations, to induce or extend wakefulness and alertness, especially on night-bombing missions, and was also issued to flight-crews in blue canisters as emergency sea-survival rations (German Seenotpackung).
Scho-Ka-Kola was also issued during World War II to German tank crews, where it became colloquially known as "Tank Chocolates" (German Panzerschokolade), as well as German U-boat crews and the German Army. During the occupation period it was also distributed to the German population by the Allies. German Wehrmacht-issue World War II Scho-Ka-Kola tin containers are highly sought after by collectors.
Scho-Ka-Kola is mentioned three times in Johann Voss's World War II autobiography, Black Edelweiss. "Johann Voss", real name Paul Karl Schmidt, joins the Waffen-SS in 1943 at only 17. He ends up in Northern Finland as an SS mountain ranger, and participates in heavy fighting against the Russians. When things go particularly bad, round tin boxes of Scho-Ka-Kola are issued to the troops. He also claims that during the Battle of the Bulge (particularly, the town of Reipertsweiler, in which Voss participated in a German victory), Scho-Ka-Kola was given to captured American troops as an act of respect for their bravery. Voss details Scho-Ka-Kola in the footnotes, calling the chocolate "pure luxury" and explains that each round tin contains two discs of dark chocolate, laced with caffeine from coffee beans.
In 1969 German chocolate producer Hans Imhoff took over the Hildebrand chocolate company, and in 1972 also bought the beleaguered Stollwerck chocolate manufacturer from Deutsche Bank for distribution. On July 1, 2005, the German Genuport company gained all brand and distribution rights to the product. Currently it is made by a subsidiary in Berlin and available across Germany and distributed in a limited number of foreign countries.
- In addition to the usual bitter-sweet dark chocolate in red-white container, there is also a milk chocolate variant in blue-white container, and once a milk chocolate hazelnut variant in a green-white container.
- Until recently, each container originally consisted of two individually stacked circular chocolate platters, embossed in a cake like shape and portioning, where each individual embossed portion had to be broken-off for consumption.
- A container of 100 gram has a caffeine content of about 200 mg. Since each container contains 16 individual embossed portions, each portion has a caffeine content of about 12.5 mg caffeine.
- Current containers indicate "6 portions of Scho-Ka-Kola contain about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee". This amount corresponds with about the caffeine content of energy drinks (80 mg per 250 ml). An earlier packaging label read: "4 portions of Scho-Ka-Kola contain about as much caffeine as a strong espresso" (approximately 50 mg).
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- Brand website (German)