Mmm – Hot Chocolate, Official City Drink

This week’s forecast of extremely frigid temperatures may have more people reaching for a cup of hot chocolate as one way to warm up.

But Beryl Fishbone of the Society of the Founders of Norwich hopes it will put the city in the mind-set of designating hot cocoa the official beverage of Norwich.

“This is a way for people to connect to the very early roots of Norwich,” Fishbone said.

The first documented instance of manufacturing cocoa in the city was in 1766, she said. In 1770, Christopher Leffingwell and his brother, Elisha, opened a chocolate mill.

Fishbone said visitors to the Leffingwell House Museum in Norwich learn about the mill.

Fishbone said she thought the hot cocoa proposal would be a fun idea, and an opportunity to raise money for the museum.

Recipe contest

The society would need a coordinator and a sponsor to create a hot cocoa contest with the winning recipe designated as the unofficial recipe for the city.

She said it would take an act of the City Council to make cocoa the city’s official beverage.

Alderman Mark Bettencourt said he hasn’t been approached about the idea, but he said a proposal like Fishbone’s could be addressed by proclamation.

“I have my own personal connection to chocolate,” he said. “I love it. Anything that had to do with hot chocolate I would be supportive of, especially in January.”

Norwich has capitalized on its history before. Several years ago, city tourism officials sold a coffee mug depicting city native Benedict Arnold in a blue coat that turned red with hot water.

Hot chocolate was a staple in early American homes, a military ration during the Revolutionary War, a medicine during the Lewis and Clark exploration, and a common beverage for soldiers and civilians during the Civil War, Fishbone said.

The Society of the Founders of Norwich wants a coordinator and sponsor for a hot cocoa contest as a fundraiser for the continuation and maintenance of the Leffingwell House Museum. Interested individuals should leave a message for Beryl Fishbone at 887-9000 or e-mail

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