The MOUNDS Chocolate Bar Helped American Espionage Efforts During World War II

Photo Credit: 1. Bettmann / Getty Images 2. Evan-Amos / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Photo Credit: 1. Bettmann / Getty Images 2. Evan-Amos / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

Chocolate lovers are aware of Hershey’s MOUNDS bar. The coconut-filled, dark chocolate treat is an American staple, and as far as Hershey’s chocolate goes, it’s one of the company’s better offerings. It has a unique and storied history, which includes aiding in the United States in its espionage efforts against the Germans during World War II.

An American candy company comes into existence

MOUNDS chocolate bar split in half
MOUNDS chocolate bar. (Photo Credit: Evan-Amos / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

In 1919, candyman Peter Paul Halajian joined forces with six other immigrant men to form the Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing Company. The septet established themselves as leaders in the candy space during the Great Depression, with their motto, “Give the consumer top quality and honest value and your business with thrive,” offering a glimpse at how they wanted their venture to develop and grow.

Two years after its formation, Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing debuted the MOUNDS chocolate bar, which it had purchased the year prior, in 1920. By 1932, the company was living up to its motto, having added a second MOUNDS bar to the package; they’d doubled the weight, but opted to charge the same price: five cents.

This gesture solidified the American public’s trust in the company, resulting in its tremendous growth. This allowed it to become a part of the Hershey brand years later, in 1988.

MOUNDS and American espionage

U-boat under attack at sea
U-boat under attack, 1942. (Photo Credit: Pen and Sword Books / Getty Images)

The outbreak of World War II meant Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing was in need of a new supplier for its coconuts. The company had previously obtained its supply from the Philippines, but it was cut off when Japan began its occupation.

The company was able to secure a supply from Puerto Rico, but this presented a dangerous situation. The southern Atlantic was being patrolled by the Kriegsmarine and its U-boats, which meant Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing needed to obtain a new fleet of ships that wouldn’t raise the Germans’ suspicions.

The company purchased a fleet of 35-to-50-ton schooners, which it dubbed the “Flea Fleet.” The vessels were so small that the Germans felt it unnecessary to pay them any mind, and thus Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing didn’t have to worry about a possible attack. This allowed the company to help the US military in its efforts against Germany, as it was able to report enemy sightings and positions.

Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing’s contributions to the war effort

American troops standing around a steaming barrel that's positioned outside
American soldiers receiving rations while stationed in Northern Ireland, 1942. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Espionage wasn’t the only way in which Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing aided in the American war effort. The company donated its empty coconut shells for the manufacturing of carbon gas masks and processes connected to the manufacturing of explosives.

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The company’s chocolate bars were also a staple of the American soldier diet. MOUNDS and Caramels were used in US Army and Navy ration kits, and they saw an unusual spike in demand in 1944. Candy was a way of increasing morale on the front, and Peter Paul Candy Manufacturing’s products were eaten by millions of US troops.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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