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Thursday, October 30, 2008

A History of Chocolate

I find the best way to consider the history of chocolate is to actually eat some while I’m reading! We can thank the Mayan Indians for discovering and planting the first cocoa plants in 1500 BC, when the Olmec Indians began to grow them. They used to dry out the beans and then grind it up and use as the base of a watery drink just like we do with tea or coffee today. This was such a delicacy that only the social elite were able to afford such luxury by the time of the Mayans. When Columbus first began to explore the new world he was introduced to the coco bean as cargo a Mayan trader was carrying.

Europeans Invent the First Chocolate Drink

Cacao beans were not very popular after Columbus brought back the first supplies. In fact it took some laterally minded monks to try the drink as a hot beverage. This immediately became popular throughout Spain. Soon Chocolate Houses opened throughout Europe. In the 1700’s the first steam mechanized coco grinders which lead to a price drop in coco production that made chocolate available for all.

At Last – Solid Eating Chocolate

As the hot drink spread as a favorite drink, people became more adventurous and experimented with using the cacao beans differently. Soon the powder was being used in cakes and desserts. It became obvious that the combination with sugar was a vital developmental step. Around the time of the American Revolutionary War, Bakers Chocolate Company began large scale manufacturing.

The Chocolate Revolution Begins

Whilst the Bakers Chocolate Company was influential in North America, the Dutch were quickly moving to widespread use of Cocoa powder produced by a process named after the country, the “Dutching” method. This process produced a fine grained powder which is still a favorite with chocolate connoisseurs.

Chocolate Spreads its Wings

Soon chocolate began to be used to make candies of varyoing types. The “Dutched” method lent itself to multiple uses and when combined with cocoa butter the modern chocolate styles began to emerge. This was especially evident with the production of moldable treats which we call chocolate truffles.

The history of chocolate in America features a rich diversity of baked goods and candies. One of the baked goods beloved by Americans are brownies, the first published recipe for this now classic treat was published in the Sears Roebuck Catalogue back at the end of the 19th century. The Hershey Company and the Nestle Company were making so much money in the United States, that a Belgian confection maker opened Godiva Chocolate Company in 1926; all three companies are still popular chocolate manufacturers today.


By Michael Haydon


Check Out the Related Article : A Guide To Chocolate

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