According to the survey, chocolate is considered to be the most popular food in the world. Dark chocolate specifically has many active compounds that are known for their positive effects on our health, including anti-oxidants and stimulants like caffeine and theobromine (a substance chemically similar to caffeine).
Here are some facts about chocolate:
Here are the facts and fun facts about the chocolates,
Food of the Gods
Mesoamerican cultures considered it the food of the "gods" and an early form of liquid medicine.
The cacao tree is native to Mesoamerica, it's scientific name Theobroma Cacao meaning "food of the gods". Cultivation by Mayan and Aztec Indians of Mesoamerica dates back as early as 1100 BC.
However, cocoa was not mixed with vanilla or any other spices out of respect for the gods.
Ancient Bitter Chocolate
Ancient chocolate was bitter because they didn't have sugar in them until Spaniards discovered America.
Until the introduction of sugar, chocolate was almost always consumed as a bitter, spicy drink. And it was consumed by all levels of society, not just drunk by the royals and nobles like mulled wine today.
Cocoa was used as currency in some pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations. Cocoa beans were used as currency by Maya and Aztec civilizations.
In the Mesoamerican Classic period, one cocoa bean was a day's pay for a common laborer.
By the Postclassic period, its value had increased to one real coin per cocoa bean.
The term chocolate was coined in the 1600s, it likely comes from the Classical Nahuatl word chocolātl.
The term chocolate is derived from the Classical Nahuatl word "chocolātl", which is derived from the word xocolātl [ʃokoˈlat] made of xococ ("sour or bitter"), and (i)atl (water). The words are combined together to describe something that's sour and bitter as cacao.
And the Europeans coined the word chocolate after the introduction of the same in Europe.
Energy Drink in the 16th Century
When cocoa beans were first transported to Spain, they were immediately recognized for their energizing qualities. Soon after that, drinking chocolate became an integral part of dining in high society.
For example, King Charles I of England's wife Queen Henrietta Maria used chocolate as a form of medication when she gave birth to her first child after 12 years of marriage because her midwife told her how many wonderful benefits does drinking this tasty beverage has.
The First Chocolate Bar
The first chocolate bar was invented in 1847 by a British Chocolate Company. And it was called the "Galia" chocolate bar.
In 1847, Joseph Fry discovered how to make cocoa powder and solid chocolate (the first process to create modern chocolate), thus creating the first chocolate bar. And it became one of Britain's biggest successes.
The scientific name for the cacao tree is Theobroma Cacao where "Theobroma" means "food of the gods". And it is a small evergreen tree native to Central and South America.
Today, chocolate is grown throughout the world, but during pre-Columbian days it was mostly confined to Central America and South America, particularly in Mexico (where it was domesticated), Guatemala and Venezuela/Colombia.
Cacao trees only grow successfully within 20 degrees on either side of the equator: 15 degrees north and south of the equator, where there are no frosts and the rain falls regularly.
The Cacao bean is a seed and is the main raw material for chocolate making.
On average, over 4 million tonnes of cocoa beans are harvested each year from over 100 countries throughout the world. And the biggest producer of the beans are the Ivory Coast and Ghana and both of them accounts for 50 percent of the world's production of cacao.
Where Chocolate comes from
The chocolate industry is worth about $110 billion annually.
Though many may think Switzerland land as the largest chocolate maker, America has the biggest market for chocolate products with China having the second-highest number of chocolate consumers (China buys more than one million metric tonnes every year).
And Europe follows these two being third on the list with Japan being fourth.
Cocoa Butter is the extract from Cocoa beans and it is used as fat in chocolate and cocoa products. And also it's found to be the richest source of flavonoids, which are antioxidants.
It's made from cocoa beans that have been roasted, then pressed to extract most of their fat content as cocoa butter. The remaining material is ground into chocolate liquor or cocoa powder.
Smell of Chocolate
The smell of chocolate has a profound impact on the mood of a person
The smell of chocolate can make you happier because the scent stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain. This chemical triggers alertness and elevates your mood, so smelling chocolate gives you a feeling of pleasure and comfort similar to someone loving and caring about you.
And also the aroma of dark chocolate is more effective than other fragrant aromas such as lavender or vanilla which helps to reduce blood pressure for stress-prone people.
Melting of Chocolate
Chocolate usually melts at around 34 degrees Celsius; this is why it often becomes soft and gooey in the sun.
And when it melts, the cocoa butter separates from the solids of the chocolate so you only get the soluble solids in your mouth when you eat melted chocolate therefore it's creamier than solid chocolate.
Cacao bloom is the white powdery substance that appears on chocolate when it's exposed to high temperatures or humidity. It's actually small crystals of sugar produced as cocoa butter rises to the surface and forms a film over the chocolate.
You can avoid cacao blooms by storing your chocolates in an airtight container at room temperature, which should be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 Celsius) with a humidity level of 50 percent; keep them away from sunlight
If you see any sort of white or grayish-white spots on your dark chocolate bar, don't throw it away; this bloom is only made of sugar and doesn't affect the flavor or texture. You can simply wipe it off with a clean piece of cloth and you're good to go.
Cacao Dust Powder
Cacao dust is produced during the processing of cocoa beans. It's made up of ground-up cacao beans with a small amount of added sugar, cornstarch, or other substances to keep it from caking.
Cacao dust is used as a chocolate substitute by people who are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy. It's also used as a flavoring agent in various recipes to provide a strong chocolate flavor without the need for large amounts of other ingredients.
World's largest Chocolate bar
According to the Guinness World Record, the world's largest chocolate bar by Great Candy Company and weighs 4410 Kg.
World's most expensive Chocolate bar
The world's most expensive chocolate bar is currently the "Black Diamond" by luxury chocolatier Hotel Chocolat comes with a price tag of $700 per 100g bar
An expensive chocolate bar was created by Barry Callebaut and contains 48% cocoa. It is wrapped in edible gold leaf and has a price tag of £460 per 100-gram bar. The Golden Phoenix has been unveiled during the Salon du Chocolat which is a chocolate festival held every October in Paris, France.
Types of Chocolate
The major types of Chocolate are - Milk Chocolate, Dark chocolate, and White Chocolate.
Milk chocolate is made from a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and milk powder. It is normally sweet, with a low content of cocoa (seldom higher than 50%), and has a mild chocolate flavor.
Dark chocolate has a cocoa content between 50 and 70 percent and provides a distinct flavor. Dark or semi-sweet chocolates contain little or no milk solids and are higher in chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, with added sugar.
White Chocolate contains cocoa butter, milk solids, and sugar - no chocolate liquor. It does not contain dark cocoa powder or any of the other types of chocolate.
Is White chocolate a chocolate?
No, it is not, because chocolate is made from roasted cacao seeds. Brown-colored cocoa butter, which gives the final product its brown color, is extracted from the nib of the cacao seed and then added to different types of ingredients including milk solids, sugar, and other flavors.
White chocolate contains only cocoa butter, milk solids, and sugar. So White chocolate is not proper chocolate but it has similar ingredients and tastes like Chocolate.
Pink chocolate is produced by adding natural food colorants to white chocolate. The pink color is produced using natural plant extracts.
Pink chocolate may also be called dark pink chocolate or red chocolate if it contains 50% or more cocoa solids.
Chocolate wine is a sweet dessert wine made with chocolate, either as the primary ingredient or as a flavor component. They range in color from pinkish to nearly black and can be off-dry to very sweet.
Chocolate-based dessert wines are made like other fruit-based wines, by fermenting the juice of the relevant fruits together with various "chocolate" ingredients. These include cacao nibs (ground cocoa beans), cocoa powder, chocolate flavor, and/or whole pieces of solid dark, milk, or white chocolate among others.
Chocolate as medicine
Dark Chocolate has been used for medicinal purposes in native cultures throughout the world, but it is only recently that its benefits have become more widely known and accepted.
Dark chocolate contains a large number of beneficial substances, some of which have antioxidant properties.
A number of research studies have shown that dark chocolate is the most beneficial type because it has the highest content of cocoa solids, which contain the greatest number of antioxidants.
Chocolate as stimulant
The caffeine and theobromine, another stimulant, in chocolate can make people feel more alert.
Cacao beans contain about 1 to 1.5% caffeine, which is substantially less than coffee beans (about 2 to 3%), but comparable with tea and cola nuts (about 1%). Dark chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine.
Chocolate also contains a chemical known as phenylethylamine, which stimulates the release of endorphins in the brain. This is thought to create a feeling of pleasure and excitement.
Chocolate for physical wellbeing
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, substances that help blood flow. Good blood flow is important for the regulation of the body's internal environment and can lower blood pressure.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that protect cells, particularly those of the heart and cardiovascular system, against the effects of free radicals - toxic chemicals produced by the body's normal metabolic processes.
Dark chocolate also contains magnesium, which helps to relax the muscles in the walls of blood vessels and therefore improves blood flow. And it helps in heart health.
Other beneficial substances found in dark chocolate are potassium, calcium, and iron. Read 7 Health benefits of Dark Chocolate.
World Chocolate Day
World Chocolate Day is observed annually on 7 July of every year.
World Chocolate Day is a day created to celebrate the art of fine chocolate and its heritage. The global celebrations offer participants a chance to broaden their knowledge on all things related, from bean to bar.
Bean to Bar Chocolate
Bean to bar is a chocolate made from Cacao bean instead of cacao solids. It retains the original flavors of the cacao bean.
Many popular brands use cacao solids and allergens, fillers to make the chocolate, which affects the health of the consumer and the quality of the chocolate. However, bean to bar chocolate ensures the purity of cacao is preserved and the quality of chocolate is ensured.
These are facts about chocolate and cacao. So it makes sense to learn more about chocolate and cacao before enjoying its unique flavor.
Chocolates are good for health. Dark Chocolate contains the most antioxidants. It helps cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles in blood vessels, improves blood flow, and is good for heart health.
Whenever you try the next bar of chocolate, keep in mind that you are tasting the result of thousands of years of work and taste by unknown people.
And it is not surprising that chocolate has become a symbol of love because of its long history. What could be more romantic than giving someone you care about the gift of pleasure, joy, and sweetness?