Food

Chocolate

src: flickr, Everjean
Choqoa Chocolate Bar Experiment” (CC BY 2.0) by EverJean

Do you know chocolate has more than a 4000-year old history? It goes way back to 1750 BC!

It has been found that Olmec, Mayan and Aztec civilizations in Central and South America made a spicy chocolate drink by fermenting, roasting and grounding cacao beans. Chocolate was found to be mood-enhancer and aphrodisiac. When the Aztecs began to dominate Mesoamerica in the 14th century, they started craving for chocolate and it became a royal drink. Cacao beans became a currency (a turkey hen was worth 100 cacao beans!).

chocolate
Chocolat de Bonnat tasting” (CC BY 2.0) by EverJean

But, it was not until the 16th century that chocolate made it’s way to Europe. Columbus brought cacao beans to Europe between 1502 and 1504. But it wasn’t until the Spanish Conquistador Don Hernán Cortés realised its commercial value in 1528 when he brought cacao back to Spain, that chocolate began to gain popularity.

Chocolate remained for the privileged few until Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten in 1828 invented the cocoa press and made cacao powder available to masses. The press could squeeze cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a dry cake that could be pulverised into a fine powder and used at will.

And in 1847, the first chocolate bar was made from cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar by the British chocolate company J.S. Fry & Sons.  Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching machine in 1879 , which produced chocolate with a velvety texture. Soon Cadbury, Mars and Hershey became popular names in the late 1800s and early 1900s!

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