Chocolate History

For over 3000 years, Chocolate…like gold, has had a universal appeal

2000 BC, Amazon: Cocoa, from which chocolate is created, is said to have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago.

Sixth Century AD: Chocolate, derived from the seed of the cocoa tree, was used by the Maya Culture, as early as the Sixth Century AD. Maya called the cocoa tree cacahuaquchtl… "tree," and the word chocolate comes from the Maya word xocoatl which means bitter water.

300 AD, Maya Culture: To the Mayas, cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility... nothing could be more important! Stones from their palaces and temples revealed many carved pictures of cocoa pods.

600 AD, Maya Culture: Moving from Central America to the northern portions of South America, the Mayan territory stretched from the Yucatán Peninsula to the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. In the Yucatán, the Mayas cultivated the earliest know cocoa plantations. The cocoa pod was often represented in religious rituals, and the texts their literature refer to cocoa as the god’s food.

Chocolate has impacted the ways in which some humans worshiped, and expressed their values.

1200, Aztec Culture: The Aztecs attributed the creation of the cocoa plant to their god Quetzalcoatl who, descended from heaven on a beam of a morning star carrying a cocoa tree stolen from paradise. In both the Mayan and Aztec cultures cocoa was the basis for a thick, cold, unsweetened drink called xocoatl… believed to be a health elixir.

1513, A Slave is Bought for Beans: Hernando de Oviedo y Valdez, who went to America in 1513 as a member of Pedrarias Avila's expedition, reports that he bought a slave for 100 cocoa beans. According to Hernando de Oviedo y Valdez 10 cocoa beans bought the services of a prostitute, and 4 cocoa beans got you a rabbit for dinner.

At this time, the name of the drink changed to Chocolatl from the Mayan word xocoatl [chocolate] and the Aztec word for water, or warm liquid.

1519, Hernando Cortez Begin a Plantation: Hernando Cortez, who conquered part of Mexico in 1519, had a vision of converting these beans to golden doubloons. While he was fascinated with Aztec's bitter, spicy beverage [he didn’t like the cocoa drink], he was much intrigued by the beans’ value as currency. Later, Cortez established a cocoa plantation in the name of Spain… henceforth, "money" will be cultivated! It was the birth of what was to be a very profitable business.

Chocolate affected many cultures and traditions, and even…International economics!

1528, Chocolate Arrives in Spain: Cortès presented the Spainish King, Charles V with cocoa beans from the New World and the necessary tools for its preparation. And no doubt Cortès taught him how to make Chocolate.

1569, The Roman Church Takes a Serious Look at Chocolate: Pope Pius V, who did not like chocolate, declared that drinking chocolate on Friday did not break The Fast.

1609, Chocolate is Lauded in Literature: The first book devoted entirely to chocolate, "Libro en el cual se trata del chocolate," came from Mexico.

1615, Chocolate Comes With the Dowery: Ann of Austria, daughter of Philip II from Spain, introduced the beverage to her new husband, Louis the XIII, and his French court, too.

1625, Cocoa Beans are Currency in Spain too: 200 small cocoa beans were valued at 1 Spanish real, or 4 cents.

1643, The French Court Embraces Chocolate: When the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa was betrothed to Louis XIV of France, she gave her fiancé an engagement gift of chocolate, packaged in an elegantly ornate chest.

Chocolate Mania in Paris: The chocolate craze which now included candy took hold in Paris and then conquered the rest of France.

1657, Even London Succumbs: London's first chocolate shop is opened by a Frenchman. London Chocolate Houses became the trendy meeting places where the elite London society savored their new luxury. The first chocolate house opened in London advertising "this excellent West India drink."

1662, Rome Takes Another Look: As chocolate became exceptionally fashionable,The Church of Rome took a second look at this bewitching beverage. The judgment: "Liquidum non frangit jejunum," reiterated that a chocolate drink did not break the fast. But eating chocolate confections didn’t pass muster, until Easter. Is this where the Easter Bunny makes an entrance?

1670, One Man Takes a Stand: Helmsman Pedro Bravo do los Camerinos decides that he has had enough of Christian voyages of exploration and settles in the Philippines, where he spends the rest of his life planting cocoa, thus laying the foundations for one of the great plantations of that time.

1671, All Troubles Have a Silver Lining: Sometimes people just don’t see it…this time creativity prevailed! As the story goes, a bowlful of almonds is dropped, and the angry chef tries to "box the ears" of his kitchen boy… but instead he spills a pan full of hot, burnt sugar over the almonds. Meanwhile the renowned gourmet, Duke of Plesslis-Praslin, is waiting for his dessert!

1674, A Trendy Coffee House Takes Chocolate To New Horizons: An Avant Guard, London Coffee House called At the Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll, goes down in the annals of history for serving chocolate in cakes, and also in rolls… in the Spanish style.

1730, Hand Methods of Manufacture Gave Way to Mass Production: The transition was hastened by the advent of a perfected steam engine, which mechanized the cocoa grinding process. By 1730, chocolate had dropped in price from three dollars or more per pound to within financial reach of all.

1747, Frederick III of Prussia forbids hawking: Especially the hawking of chocolate! In fact, Frederick prohibited chocolate in his realm. In where Chocolate flourished, It’s high price ensured that only the wealthy could indulge.

1755, America Discovers Chocolate: Diligently forging the concept of Democracy, Americans take time out to discovers Chocolate.

1765, First Chocolate Factory In the USA: The production of chocolate proceeded at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world. It was in pre-Revolutionary New England.

1780, Spain Was First: The first machine-made chocolate is produced in Barcelona.

1800, Chocolate is an Industry: Antoine Brutus Menier built the first industrial manufacturing facility for chocolate.

1819, The Swiss Invest in a Chocolate Factory: In a former mill near Vevey, Fran‡ois-Louis Cailler, who had learned the secrets of the chocolate trade in Italy founds his first factory. As cocoa plantations spread to the tropics in both hemispheres by the 19th century, the increased production lowered the price of the cocoa beans and chocolate became a popular and affordable beverage.

Secret techniques in blending and roasting beans, traditional family recipes and creative interpretations, and innovative candy making techniques have been handed down from generation to generation.

1822, The Cocoa Tree becomes an Ornamental Plant: off the west coast of Africa on the Principe Island in the Gulf of Guinea, Ferreira Gomes [from Portugal] introduces the cocoa tree as an ornamental plant.

1828, The Cocoa Press is Invented: The Press lead to reduced prices and helped to improve the quality of the beverage by squeezing out part of the cocoa butter. Drinking chocolate had a smooth consistency and a more pleasing taste.

1847, An English Company Introduced Fondant Chocolate: This smooth and velvety chocolate almost completely replaced the old coarse grained chocolate.

1849, Cadbury Brothers Exhibited Chocolate: The exhibition was at Bingley Hall at Birmingham, England.

1851, Marks a First for Americans: Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert orchestrated The Exposition in London. It was the first time citizens of the United States were introduced to bonbons, chocolate creams, hard candies (called "boiled sweets"), and caramels.

1875, Milk Chocolate Comes of Age: After eight years of experimentation, Daniel Peter from Switzerland puts the first milk chocolate on the market.

1900, Switzerland Takes the Leadership Role: Spain, where chocolate was first introduced to Europeans, falls far behind. Germany consumes the most per head, followed by the United States, France and Great Britain.

1913, A new Star is Born: Jules Sechaud of Montreux of Switzerland introduced the process for filling chocolates.

Chocolate making is an important part of European Cultures… the Swiss, Belgians, French, Italians and Germans. And now, American Chocolatiers are also making their mark.

1925, Cocoa is Big Business: The New York Cocoa Exchange, located at the World Trade Center, was begun so that buyers and sellers could get together for transactions.

1938, World War II: The U.S. government recognized chocolate's role in the Allied Armed Forces. It allocated valuable shipping space for the importation of cocoa beans which would give many weary soldiers the strength to carry. Today, the U.S. Army D-rations include three 4-ounce chocolate bars. Chocolate has even been taken into space as part of the diet of U.S. astronauts.

You may read that chocolate is an aphrodisiac based on studies from reputable universities. Scientists have isolated phenylethylamine (PEA) which is a stimulant found in chocolate, and also in the brain. A miniscule amount of PEA is released at moments of emotional euphoria, raising blood pressure and heart rate. There is no evidence that PEA found in foods increases PEA in the brain. And by the way, cheddar cheese, salami and pickled herring all contain more PEA than Chocolate, so join our International Cheese of the Month Club too!

Industrialization brought Chocolate to the masses, yet Chocolate is still considered to be an exceptional indulgence!
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