History of Chocolate
The History of Chocolate begins in the rain forests of what is now known as Mexico. The people living there were the first to taste chocolate (or so it is thought).
They used the cacao beans to make a chocolate drink that was more frothy and spicy as opposed to the smooth and creamy concoctions that are popular today. So the history of chocolate begins.
Historians believe the history of chocolate began sometime between 1000 and 2000 BCE (Before the Christian Era).
At that time, chocolate wasn’t sweet like we know it to be today. Rather, it tasted bitter because the cacao beans were used in their raw form, with no sugar added.
Today we have choices across the board with many types of chocolate we can enjoy in baking, cooking, or just for eating.
What Exactly is Chocolate?
Chocolate is a sweet treat made from cacao beans. Cacao trees are found in geographic locations close to the equator, where there is high humidity and ample rainfall.
We can’t say that chocolate grows on trees, but the beans from which chocolate is made do grow on trees.
These beans are found within cacao pods that grow on the branches of the cacao tree. Each pod contains at least 20 beans, but can contain up to 40 beans.
When the pod is cracked open, the beans are covered in white pulp, a waxy substance. Chocolate is made from the beans once they’re removed from the pulp.
There are arguments that the Mayans first grew such tree in 300 AD. And the Aztecs had their turn in cultivating such in 1100 AD.
The chocolate that you all know now used to be called Xocolat. This was a special beverage that was made out of chilies, anise seed, vanilla, cornmeal and some more spices.
Only royalties get to be treated with such delight at the time. It was served using golden cups that were to be used only once.
Chocolate has always been recognized as a very special treat. This wonderfully decadent and sweet treat turns every occasion into a celebration.
Many people love chocolate, so it’s almost always included in some fashion for special occasions. You can find chocolate in desserts, cookies, brownies, pies, candies, and drinks.
Chocolate manufacturers all over the world create solid chocolate and chocolate confections we can enjoy right in own home thanks to the Internet.
Timeline for The History of Chocolate
Let’s take a quick look at the history of chocolate according to a basic time-line. It’s interesting to see, at a glance, how chocolate changed from a basic, bitter drink to the creamy, sweet delight we know today.
- 2000-1000 BCE – chocolate is first tasted by people living in the rainforests of what we know now as Mexico
- 1000-1500 CE – the Mayan and Aztec people discovered that the cacao beans could be made into a drink. They liked to add spicy peppers and corn to the cacao beans, making the drink very spicy. To make the drink froth, they placed the cup on the ground and then stood to pour the chocolate drink into the cup.
- Around 1300 – 1500s – cacao beans are used as money would be today in order to obtain other things such as rabbits or slaves.
- 1521 – the Spanish are introduced to chocolate by the Aztecs (whom they have conquered in Mexico)
- 1528 – seven years after the Spanish are introduced to chocolate, the first shipments of cacao beans are sent to Spain from Mexico. Chocolate was only available to the very wealthy at that time.
- 1600s – 1800s – an influx of chocolate is seen throughout Europe.
- 1657 - London, England opened the first chocolate houses. The wealthy enjoyed their chocolate so much that local artisans created bowls and chalices from china or silver specifically for the purpose of serving and drinking chocolate.
- 1795 – steam power is utilized to grind up the cacao beans
- 1828 – the cocoa press is invented by a man named Coenraad Van Houten.
- 1847 – J.S. Fry, an English born and bred chocolate maker creates the first chocolate bar. The creation of a chocolate bar made chocolate affordable for not only the wealthy, but people of all economic statuses.
Did you know?
" Chocolate was used as a medicine by Europeans to supposedly cure asthma, cancer, and stomach issues for several years.
However, it eventually became clear that people weren’t being healed, but rather becoming overweight due to drinking too much chocolate with sugar."
Famous Chocolate Manufacturers
Following J.S. Fry’s creation of the chocolate bar, many other entrepreneurs enter the chocolate scene. These are names we recognize and associate today with top-quality chocolate.
In 1824, John Cadbury opened a small chocolate shop in London, England.
He began a legacy, which would make his family the largest chocolate maker in the United Kingdom.
His candies are also very popular today in the United States, especially around the Easter holiday.
Henri Nestle, a German businessman, invented powdered milk. Little did he know at the time that his invention would help him to launch and build one of the largest and most well known chocolate manufacturing companies.
A man by the name of Daniel Peter had the idea to mix Nestlé’s powdered milk with cocoa powder. Voila – the creation of milk chocolate! That was in the year 1875. It didn’t take long before Nestle had realized the value of the discovery and built his business around milk chocolate in candy bars.
Rodolphe Lindt, a Swiss inventor, made his mark on the chocolate industry with his invention of a grinding process called "conching".
This process would revolutionize the chocolate industry. Prior to this accidental discovery in 1879, chocolate was gritty. Conching makes the chocolate creamy and smooth.
Of course, we cannot talk about the history of chocolate without mentioning Milton Hershey. He was a candy maker in Pennsylvania who made chocolate bars.
He had no way of knowing in 1890 that his chocolates would become a household name in the United States, popular even today. In fact, many people will say they would like a "Hershey bar" simply when they’re referring to a chocolate bar.
In the year 1911, Milton Hershey had a competitor in Frank C. Mars, who created the Mars Company. This company manufactured and sold fresh chocolate candy wholesale. One of their most popular products on the market today are M&M® candies.
Have you ever heard of Ruth Wakefield? She was a dietitian who accidentally created the first chocolate chip cookies in 1930!
Chocolate has come a very long way from the frothy, spicy, and bitter drink discovered in the rain-forest to the creamy, decadent, sweet, rich chocolate we know and love today.
Edible and interesting...now that's a history I can relate to!
Cookie Recipes HERE!
Cake Recipes HERE!
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