This is What 100-Year-Old Christmas Chocolate Looks Like

December 13, 2017

Over a hundred years ago a British girl was given a box of chocolates. Today, it remains uneaten. And for the bargain price of $100, you could be the lucky one to finally eat them.

The story is a strange one: A century ago, a young Eileen Margaret Elmes was gifted a box of chocolates for Christmas. The set contains four figurines. In the middle is a chocolatier's interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood. She is flanked by a baby in a cradle, a sailor and a woman in a bonnet. All their bodies are made of chocolate, their clothes are delicate paper. It seems both their bodies and their outfits have survived the test of time...kind of. The box came from Pascall’s Chocolate Novelties.

Elmes loved her box of chocolates so much that she kept them, uneaten, for the entirety of her life, and then some: The chocolates actually outlived their owner, who died in 2007 at the age of 99. Since then, her niece (who prefers to remain anonymous) has been the sole keeper of the chocolates. Until now, that is.

Shop the Story

This week, the century-old box of chocolates will go up for auction at Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, England. The official auction date is set for December 19. Auctioneers estimate that the antique sweet could sell for something between £70-£100, or approximately $93-$133.

The chocolates themselves appear to still be intact, as do the clothes that adorn them, though they're covered in a white chalky film that belies their age. Would I eat them? Most definitely not. Would I buy them at auction? Perhaps… if I was chocolate obsessed and had a spare hundred lying around. Best of luck to whoever walks away with this vintage treat.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“It was easy enough to go to the Hansons Auctioneers website, plug in "chocolate" in the search box and you'll get search results. This 100-year-old chocolate is Lot 988a. It's worth taking a look!”
— SophieL

How long have you kept chocolate? Let us know your horror stories in the comment section.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lisa Pillmore
    Lisa Pillmore
  • Valerio Farris
    Valerio Farris
  • BerryBaby
  • Nancy
  • SophieL
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


Lisa P. December 17, 2017
I was curious about the manufacturer and whether it was still in existence. It apoears to have been gobbled up by Cadbury, but here is a history leading up to the time of this box's manufacture:
Valerio F. December 14, 2017
Thanks for the notes, all. After looking this piece over, I realize there's a gap between what the headline promises and what the piece delivers. I've added a bit more information—and a picture! Hope this helps.
Nancy December 14, 2017
Valerio - I admire your response.
BerryBaby December 14, 2017
Have to agree with other commenters, was looking for more of the story. Such as... the woman was given this lovely box of chocolates by a gentleman who she adored and one day he disappeared . She loved him dearly and the chocolates were the last remembrance she had of him. She couldn't bare the thought of eating them as they symbolized his love for her. She placed the beautiful box on her nightstand and professed her love to him every night hoping he'd return and he never did. And this is how a box of chocolates became a gift of love. The end.
Nancy December 13, 2017
This story was all hat and no cattle, or whatever the equivalents are for journalism or chocolate.
Someone had a good idea, but editors should have pushed for better delivery of what was promised in the headline and opening.
SophieL December 13, 2017
Fascinating story. It was easy enough to go to the Hansons Auctioneers website, plug in "chocolate" in the search box and you'll get search results. This 100-year-old chocolate is Lot 988a. It's worth taking a look!
Amber December 13, 2017
The hyperlinks here take you right to the auction site's story, which has a few more details. However, THIS article teases with "this is what 100-year-old chocolate looks like" but has only a vague and inaccurate description. (There's no huntsman; it's a sailor. And the auction site describes the so-called grandmother as a baby in a cradle.) This article also promises "the strange story of the woman who couldn't throw it away," but there is no strange story. She liked them, so she kept them. It doesn't strike me as strange at all. I was given chocolates in a cool (tin) box about 10 years ago, and I haven't yet thrown them away because I don't want to open the box. If I put it in the right place, I could easily see keeping them until I died, and they're just regular chocolates. It just doesn't seem strange to keep something because you like it, even if it's chocolate. Especially if it still smelled nice and looked fine. The only hard part is preventing people from eating it in the first few years!
Amber December 13, 2017
I'm confused. No picture? So 100-year-old chocolate looks like your words describing it? There's also no story about the woman who couldn't throw them away, just a statement that she didn't. What a disappointing non-article.
Carrie December 13, 2017
Would be nice if you actually included an image - considering the title indicates the reader is going to see something.