History of Chocolate
The history of this magical food starts in the equatorial countries of South America. The Olmecs (an ancient tribe from the south of Mexico)were the first to domesticate the plant and give it the name "Kakawa" or Cacao.
However it was the Mayan and the Aztecs who were the first real chocolate lovers. They not only treasured the cacao beans for flavor but also for their restorative powers.This gave the beans an almost divine aura and thus were reserved for only the rich and royal. They were so important in fact that they were used as currency and 100 were enough to buy you a slave.The beans were most often ground and mixed with water and spices, such as chili pepper, to make a frothy ceremonial drink. The Aztec King Montezuma was such a fan he was rumored to consume up to 50 cups a day to keep him refreshed and ready for his harem of women.We now know that it was even this early in history chocolate became synonymous with pleasure, love and as an aphrodisiac.
It wasn't until the 1520's that the Europeans discovered chocolate and understood it's valuable qualities.Christopher Columbus was introduced to the beans but he mistakenly took for a kind of almond. It was another explorer Hernando Cortez who fully realized the potential for this exotic food. He witnessed Montezuma's daily consumption and the engrossing magical grip chocolate had on the culture.
As the new world was colonized more and more ingredients like sugar were added. The cacao bean was eventually taken back to the Spanish court but it wasn't until the end of a 16th century, and with the help of a couple of Spanish princesses, that it would really take off.
When Princess Anne of Austria came to the French court to marry King Louise XIII she brought her beloved cacao beans. The newest version of the hot chocolate drink was served at the wedding to an eager crowd of European royals.In 1643 another Spanish princess. Maria Theresa was engaged to Louise the XIV. When she arrived at court, just like her predecessor, she brought cacao beans as well as a gift of chocolate especially for her new fiancee.The king was so impressed he made it a staple amongst the french court and was a life long fan. It was because of this new obsession that Sieur David Illou was appointed to start the first official production of chocolate as a marketable income stream. It was a hit, and from then on chocolate was to be a delicacy enjoyed worldwide.
In the 18th century chocolate houses started appearing in London as meeting places for political forces and young elite. In 1847 Fry produced the first eating chocolate and a year later Daniel Peter developed milk chocolate.In the 1930s white chocolate was invented as well at the technology to use chocolate with other foods thus the invention of Smarties, Mars bars and Kit Kat's.
During the war cacao beans were scarce and the United Kingdom was on food rations so the British had to go without the chocolates and confections they had come to love. When rationing was lifted within two months 60% of confectioners were completely sold out of their goods. After wards rationing was reinstated until 1953.
Today sales of chocolate and confections in the United Kingdom alone are more then bread,newspapers and tea combined.Worldwide, the chocolate is now a 60 billion dollar industry.
-the average American eats 12lbs of chocolate a year
- the average Swiss eats 21lbs a year
- chocolate is the worlds most popular flavor
- Katherine Hepburn used to eat up to a pound of chocolate a day
- chocolate reduces your risk of blood clots and bad cholesterol so its very good for your heart!
-the chemicals serotonin and dopamine are released in your brain when you eat chocolate which are your bodies natural pain relievers and stimulants
-the Phenylethylamine that is also released in your brain when you eat chocolate is the same one that is released when your in love
- there is almost four times the amount of antioxidants in dark chocolate as there is in tea
- 40% of women regularly crave chocolate
- chocolate was actually responsible for the invention of the microwave
- every Russian and American space voyage has included chocolate bars on board
- Cacao flowers are pollinated by midges, tiny flies that live in the rotting leaves and other debris that fall to the forest floor at the base of the tree. Those midges have the fastest wingbeats in the world: 1,000 ties per second!
-Chocolate makers use 40% of the world's almonds and 20% of the world's peanuts
- Richard Cadbury came up with the idea for the first heart-shaped box of chocolates in the year 1861. Seven years later, John Cadbury began mass producing them, and, of course, several companies produce them today.
-you would have to eat more then a dozen chocolate bars to get the same amount of caffeine from a cup of coffee.
- 600,000 tons is the average global consumption of cocoa beans per year