What Is The Christmas Tradition Of A Terry’s Chocolate Orange?

Overhead shot of a chocolate orange inside the wrapper with oranges around it
PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/ALEXPRO9500

The Christmas season brings along joyous traditions that we look forward to all year—especially when it comes to food. From decadent dinners to mouthwatering cookies, families all over the South take pride in making the Christmas season a feast for the senses. One category of traditional holiday food that can’t be overlooked is Christmas candy. While the majority of these seasonal candies are universally enjoyed, there’s one Christmas candy that’s a little more controversial: Terry’s Chocolate Orange.

What are Terry’s Chocolate Oranges?

To many people around the United States and United Kingdom, it isn’t Christmas without enjoying a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. This orange-shaped and orange-flavored ball of chocolate was crafted by Terry’s Chocolate Works, an Art-Deco-style chocolate factory in York, England that opened in 1927. Along with other treats like the Terry’s Chocolate Apple and Terry’s All Gold chocolate box, the Terry’s Chocolate Orange was introduced in 1932 and became a huge hit in England.

With the onset of World War II, the Terry’s Chocolate Works factory was forced to halt production until 1954. This shifted the priorities of the chocolate makers when it reopened by phasing out the other confections to focus primarily on the popular Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Ever since, the Terry’s brand only produces the classic Chocolate Orange and other chocolate and orange-flavored candies, selling over 44 million Chocolate Oranges annually.

Box of a Terry's Chocolate Orange
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How To Eat Chocolate Oranges

Some argue that the act of eating a Terry’s Chocolate Orange is even more satisfying than the taste. Once the chocolate is taken out of the box, it’s slammed down on a tabletop to perfectly break up the “orange slices” which look just like the real deal. There’s even a chocolate orange core.

Whether you get a milk, dark, or white Chocolate Orange, the orange oil added to each always shines through. Even with the millions of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges sold a year, the flavor combination is a bit of an acquired taste to many.

Why Are They Eaten During Christmastime?

Even though Terry’s Chocolate Oranges are sold year-round, most Americans only eat them for the Christmas season. While the reason behind this isn’t completely clear, some note that Terry’s Chocolate Oranges were seen as a luxury for special occasions and holidays back in the day, and the tradition has continued on into modern times.

What Do Southern Living Editors Say About It?

Though the taste of a Terry’s Chocolate Orange isn’t everyone’s favorite, the nostalgia makes it a beloved tradition that our editors look forward to every season. Senior Home and Features editor Betsy Cribb Watson recalls that her grandparents always gave them to her as a kid. “At the time, I didn’t love the flavor, but I still loved getting them just so I could tap them on the counter and watch the ‘orange’ fall into slices,” she says. “While they weren’t my favorite candy, I’d nibble on them anyway because they made me feel grown-up. Now, they fill me with pure nostalgia for my grandparents!”

Travel and Culture editor Tara Massouleh McCay says her mom is a big fan. “She bought these a lot growing up, especially around the holidays,” she says. “I loved it because food shaped like other food is such a novelty to me. I remember asking to try some every year, mostly because I wanted to ‘peel’ off a slice, and then being swiftly reminded that I don’t actually like chocolate and orange all that much.”