Aero chocolate will always hold a special place in Eileen Clements’ heart.
Her grandfather John William Todd helped invent the recipe that makes the chocolate “bubbly”. And he was closely involved in manufacturing the chocolate in the 1930s.
It’s a story which has been passed down to the Auckland resident by her mother, and it’s backed up by documentation regarding patents.
Eileen Clements says she always makes sure to buy some Aero chocolate.
She said her grandfather worked for Rowntree’s chocolate factory in Yorkshire, an engineer by trade and an inventor.
“I don’t know much about him because of the war years. They didn’t talk much about that era,” she said.
“The documentation I’ve got is letters dating back to 1935, where Rowntree’s acknowledged that they had taken the patent out and he had been paid for them.
Eileen Clements’ grandparents Mary Magdelena Todd and John William Todd with Eileen’s mother Maureen Patricia Todd.
“Mum told me the patent related to the fact that he had invented the recipe that actually helps make the bubbles in the Aero chocolate, and also machinery which was used in the making of the chocolate especially.
“It’s called a secret formula in the documentation and I see on the different Aero websites they still refer to it as a secret.”
After working in Yorkshire, John was sent to Rowntree’s in East London, South Africa, where he worked on the recipe.
“My mum always told me that apparently the quality of the milk in South Africa helped the chocolate recipe develop better. That’s the reason he was sent there. That’s the story my mum mentioned in brief, talking about her dad.”
Rhodesian born, Eileen can remember the first wrappers Aero had when she bought them as a child in South Africa.
“They were much smaller in those days, about six piece bars. I was told because he was an engineer in the Royal Air Force they used bi-planes in the pictures.
“It used to be a white covering with the brown pictures on because after the war there wasn’t a lot of colour around. We used to collect them and get prizes.”
The documents are now being held at the Devonport Naval Museum for safe keeping in a private collection, along with other items from the war such as medals.
Eileen said she always thinks of her grandfather when she buys Aero chocolate. “I often say to people when I buy it ‘my grandfather helped make this’ and they’re always quite surprised.”