While evaluating a collection of items recently acquired by Australian poet AB “Banjo” Paterson, a team from the National Library of Australia found a box of chocolates still wrapped in straw and foil. The candy was commissioned by Queen Victoria 121 years ago to be sent to South Africa during the Second Boer War, as a gift to British troops. On the packaging, the image of the monarch had an inscription: “South Africa, 1900. I wish you a Happy New Year, Victoria RI.”
The chocolates are the oldest intact ever found in the world and were manufactured by Cadbury, a company founded in 1824 by John and Benjamin Cadbury and currently managed by Mondelez International. Interestingly, the Cadburry brothers were known to be pacifists and did not want to support the Boer War, but they agreed to comply with the request of the Queen, who, in turn, wanted to show her sincere concern for the troops in giving them chocolate which at the time was considered to be of good quality.
The memento ended up among the personal effects of the Australian poet, who was also a journalist, as he allegedly bought chocolate from a soldier while working in South Africa as a newspaper correspondent. Sydney Morning Herald and Age. The box was found by librarians while the contents of the collection were unpacked to be digitized and made available to the public free of charge.