The Nazi Bomb That Looked Like Chocolate


Dan Lewis runs the wildly popular daily newsletter Now I Know (“Learn Something New Every Day, By Email”). To subscribe to his daily email, click here.

The term “Death by Chocolate” usually refers to a dessert recipe — chocolate cake served with chocolate ice cream, chocolate syrup, sometimes with chocolate brownies or chocolate candies or chocolate shavings on top. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. For most, Death by Chocolate seems like a wonderful idea. The Nazis agreed — but took the term more literally.

In 2005, the British intelligence agency MI5 released a treasure trove of documents and photographs of camouflaged equipment used by Nazi saboteurs. Among the documents released was the item depicted above — a sketch of what seems to be an ordinary chocolate bar. But instead of containing nougat or caramel, these chocolate bars contained a bit more punch. This unique brand of Nazi chocolate was rigged to explode.

The chocolate bars were more akin to hand grenades than the confections they purported to be. They were steel-encased explosives covered with chocolate in a candy bar-like wrapper. To detonate the bomb, the operative (or would-be victim) would break off the first row of “chocolate,” revealing a canvas strap. The strap worked like the pin in a hand grenade; once it was removed, there would be only a few seconds before the bomb would explode.

Who Was the Target?

The Nazis may have envisioned the British Royal family falling prey to the ruse, opening up a bar of chocolate only to find a very rude — and deadly — surprise. According to the BBC, while explosives camouflaged as food were found on Nazi agents in Turkey, none made it to the UK. However, four similarly constructed cans of peas, en route to Buckingham Palace, did make it to Ireland before being intercepted.

Of course, it’s unclear why the Nazis believed a member of the Royal family would be opening up their own cans of peas.

To subscribe to Dan’s daily email Now I Know, click here. You can also follow him on Twitter.