Chocolate.orgArticles

A Brief History of Chocolate

A Brief History of Chocolate

Over 2,000 years have passed since our first introduction to the seductions of chocolate. Discovered in the tropical rain forests of Central America, the cacao tree produces beans that the Mayas, and later the Aztecs, fermented, roasted, and ground into paste. They mixed this paste, which was oily and bitter, with spices and other ingredients such as water, chili peppers, and cornmeal to make a foamy beverage.

This beverage wasn’t the sweet confection we know today, nor was it available to the masses. It was a drink enjoyed by the privileged — royalty, rulers, rich merchants, and priests. The cacao beans were also used as currency and in sacred ceremonies as offerings to the gods.

In the 1500’s, the Spanish conquistadors brought cacao beans back to Spain, starting Europe’s love affair with chocolate. As with the Aztecs, it was Europe’s elite, namely royalty, who enjoyed the pleasures of chocolate. Chocolate became so desirable in France that, by decree, only members of the aristocracy were allowed to drink it. The Europeans added vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and other spices to counteract the bitterness of the chocolate paste, and introduced the molinillo, a wood stirring stick used to whip the chocolate. The beverage was now a sweet, smooth concoction.

It remained a drink only wealthier Europeans could afford until the Industrial Revolution made it easy and cheap to mass produce handmade chocolate. Various methods refined chocolate’s taste and texture, as well.

Sir Hans Sloane mixed chocolate with milk, resulting in a creamier, less heavy flavor. The invention of grinding machines and chocolate mills improved its texture, and adding salt to perfect its color and flavor made chocolate very popular. Processes such as extracting the fat from cacao beans made it possible for chocolate to take solid form, leading to today’s chocolate bar. This also made it an affordable, popular treat for the general public. In 2001, Americans consumed three billion pounds of chocolate.

Today, chocolate is available in many varieties. In addition to its incarnation as a beverage and candy bar, it is used in cakes, cookies, pies, and ice cream. Types of chocolate include dark, milk, bittersweet, semisweet and white. Chocolate is molded into shapes for celebrations such as Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas, and chocolate gifts are often given as a token of love.

According to Miranda Ingram, “It’s not that chocolates are a substitute for love. Love is a substitute for chocolate.”


Next Article:  Sweet News for Sweet Lovers

All Chocolate Articles | Christmas Chocolate

Join

Stay in Touch

Sign-up for our newsletter to receive a $5 Gift Certificate!

About Us

The Global Chocolate Network

Chocolate.com is a network of shops offering product variety and local delivery. We feature chocolatiers and bakers that have a distinct creative touch. As a result, our product selection boasts a variety of ideas, ingredients, and styles. We offer popular items such as truffles, dark chocolate, and gift baskets. But we also offer unique items that will bring a delightful surprise to your loved one. We know that sending a gift requires several things: You need the right type of chocolate, packaged beautifully, to be delivered on a specific date with your gift message included. Our goal is to make this happen for you. Thank you for shopping with us.
I am getting married 1 week from tomorrow, but felt compelled to tell you about one of your employees. Ann. I have been e-mailing Ann for over 1 month and put a favor order together for my wedding. They arrived and I they looked just like the picture.The main reason I wanted to drop you a note was to commend Ann. From the very first e-mail until my chocolate was received her response time was just wonderful. I heard so many horror stories about dealing with an online company when you have no idea when they will contact you next. I never had any feeling of discomfort. Ann made me feel so at ease and comfortable the whole time...Ann was exceptional and in this day and age that is not common. Her customer service is beyond compared to others. - Fran"Thanks so much for the chocolates that were sent to my mom today!! She called me and said they were absolutely beautiful and VERY delicious!! :) I am very happy with my experience and would recommend your company to anyone. The customer service that you've provided is hard to come by - THANKS SO MUCH!! - Theresa B from