Byrd's Antarctic chocolate bar

(graphic from the January 2002 Outside Magazine story)

In 2001, Doug Stoup, guide and explorer, announced that he discovered a Hershey chocolate bar buried 60 years ago by Admiral Byrd's US Antarctic Service expedition in 1939-41. The 4-ounce Hershey Chocolate Corp. 1937 Field Ration Bar was manufactured as a test of what eventually became the Field Ration D Bar used during World War II.

Doug showed up at Pole in 2000-01 as a guide originally as part of blind explorer Miles Hilton-Barber's trek (Miles had to quit, but the rest of the team made it). Anyway, shortly afterward there came a news story that Doug had discovered a "candy bar" from third Antarctic expedition buried 2-1/2 feet below the surface near the skiway. Byrd's 1939-41 US Antarctic Service (USAS) expedition was based at Little America III (and Stonington Island off the Antarctic Peninsula) and of course came nowhere near Pole.

Doug donated the rare find to the Hershey museum, which put it on display. The problem is that Doug supposedly found the bar, buried 2-1/2 feet deep, while checking on a modern cache of food and supplies at Pole. Of course, Byrd's USAS expedition, which included a West Base at Little America III (LA3), never got within 300 miles of Pole. So if he REALLY found it there, how did it get there? Did Paul Siple (who was at LA3 on the USAS expedition) take one with him to Pole in 1956?

Doug Stoup returned to the South Pole in late December 2001 as a guide with the Adventure Networks "Last Degree" commercial traverse. When Katy Jensen asked him about the chocolate bar, he was rather evasive. He said he was misquoted, and it IS one of Byrd's candy bars, but he didn't find it at Pole. He wouldn't say WHERE he found it because he said he was going back for more stuff.

The original news story probably suffered from the not-uncommon misconception that "Antarctica" IS the "South Pole" and the tale spread too quickly for correction. Byrd's 1939-41 USAS expedition did extensive field work east of LA3, and depots were established in the Rockefeller Mountains and elsewhere in northern Marie Byrd Land. Presumably Doug stumbled upon one of these caches during his travels...

The Hershey Museum web site has this story on the development of the ration bar, alas only one photo, although Byrd's expedition is mentioned. Most of the 90,000 bars were tested in tropical climates, only a limited supply was given to the USAS. In a press statement the museum announced, "While Byrd did have the bar for his third expedition, there is no documented proof that he or any of his crew were physically at the South Pole during that time period." More recently, the January 2002 issue of Outside Magazine had a brief feature (no longer online) about Stoup's discovery, but Outside continues to speculate on the mystery of how the ration bar got to the Pole. But you know better.