What Is the History of Chocolate?
What Is the History of Chocolate?
Have you ever wondered about the history of chocolate? Where did chocolate come from? Who was the inventor of chocolate? Chocolate history goes back several millennia, but it wasn’t until the 1800s that the edible chocolate treat we know and love today was created.
So what is the history of chocolate? Keep reading to learn more.
Where Does Chocolate Come From?
Chocolate really does grow on trees—the Theobroma cacao tree, to be precise. The cacao tree is native to Central and South America and can grow in any tropical climate. Today, about 70 percent of cacao is grown in Africa.
The cacao tree produces a football-shaped fruit (or pod) that grows on branches and the trunk and can make up to 2,000 pods per year. Inside the pods is a sticky white pulp surrounding 30 to 40 seeds. If eaten straight from the pod, the seeds are extremely bitter.
Where was chocolate discovered? The first cacao trees were found over 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesoamerica (present day Mexico) and in Central America. The ancient Olmec people in southeast Mexico were probably the first ones to use chocolate. Their word, “kakawa,” gives us our word for cacao.
When Was Chocolate Invented?
Are you curious about when was chocolate invented? In 1828, Coenraad Van Houten invented the chocolate press and brought chocolate making into the modern era. Cacao beans were roasted and then placed into the chocolate press, where cocoa butter was squeezed out. A fine cocoa powder was left behind and mixed with liquids and poured into a mold, where it solidified into an edible bar of chocolate.
Who Invented Chocolate
You may be wondering who invented chocolate and where was chocolate invented. The modern chocolate bar was invented by Joseph Fry in England in 1847. He mixed cocoa butter with cocoa powder and added sugar instead of hot water to create a solid chocolate that could be molded.
By 1868, William Cadbury marketed boxes of chocolate candies in England to high praise from Queen Victoria, who was certain of chocolate’s life-enriching qualities. Milk chocolate was introduced a few years later in Switzerland in 1875 by Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle when they added condensed milk to solid chocolate.
In 1879, the invention of the conch machine by Rudolphe Lindt ensured the smooth consistency of chocolate that we know and love today.
How Long History of Chocolate
Chocolate is known as the “food of the gods,” and for most of its history chocolate was a drink prepared by inhabitants of Central America rather than the solid treat we know today. The long history of chocolate really started with the Mayans, who used cacao beans as currency and in religious rituals. They also created xocoatl, a chocolate drink made from roasted and ground cacao seeds mixed with chilies, water and cornmeal.
Centuries later, in 1502, inhabitants of Honduras offered a gift of cacao beans to Spanish conquistador, Christopher Columbus. When Hernando Cortés arrived in Mexico in 1519, he expected to find gold but was offered cacao beans by the Aztecs. In 1528, Cortés imported chocolate to Europe, where it was used as a medicine.
Chocolate in the World
The flavor and nuances of chocolate depend on the quality and origin of the cocoa beans used to make it. The best chocolate beans come from Venezuela, Brazil, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Central America and the Caribbean.
Craft bean-to-bar chocolate is made from scratch with a focus on quality. Starting with the way cacao beans are harvested (carefully, by hand, and using a machete) and ending by wrapping to retain freshness, the craft bean-to-bar process places a strong emphasis on sourcing transparency and the flavor of the cacao beans. This is the type of chocolate Cococlectic features in the monthly subscription and virtual chocolate tastings.
French chocolates are known as some of the best in the world because the French government prohibits the use of any vegetable or animal fat in French chocolate. French chocolates must contain at least 43 percent cocoa liquor and a minimum of 26 percent pure cocoa butter.
One of the most popular modern chocolates is Ferrero Rocher, which was introduced to Europe in 1982 by the Italian chocolatier. These world-famous chocolates consist of whole roasted hazelnuts surrounded by a thin wafer shell, covered in milk chocolate, and topped with chopped hazelnuts.
The Chocolate World Today
Ruby chocolate, a pink chocolate developed by Barry Callebaut, hit the market in 2018. This whole fruit chocolate uses 100 percent of the cacao bean, which is a valuable selling point when promoting to Millennials and Centennials who are interested in sustainability and protecting the environment.
The National Confectioners Association (NCA) reported that 92 percent of consumers purchased chocolate between March 15 and September 6, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The US chocolate market is expected to continue growing and to exceed $20 billion by 2025.
At Cococlectic, we feature a different American small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate maker each month. These craft chocolate makers produce chocolate from scratch using only three main ingredients: cacao beans, sugar and cocoa butter. The chocolates at Cococlectic are vegan, non-GMO, fair-trade and ethically sourced. They do not contain any soy, gluten, dairy or nut, but they may be produced in a facility that handles these ingredients.
Sign up for our chocolate-of-the-month subscription club and join us for a free virtual chocolate tasting with our featured chocolate maker of the month.