Chocolate is food that is loved by everyone and it has many types of chocolate that are consumed. Also, it is a food that is taken every day, and chocolate is consumed more every day. It is estimated that people will eat around 200 million chocolate bars each day.
Chocolate is a food derived from the seeds of a tropical plant named Theobroma cacao.
This article discusses the history of cacao chocolate and evolution of cacao and chocolate into a multibillion-dollar health food industry.
Botany of Cocoa
Theobroma cacao is the name of a tree belonging to the family Malvaceae, which in turn is part of the order Malvales and the class Magnoliopsida. The origin of this plant lies in South America, where it was already cultivated by tribes such as Mokaya (Mexico), Olmecs, and Chontales thousands of years ago.
The first written mention dates from 1553 and refers to Central American Aztecs using chocolate for medical purposes: cocoa was considered an aphrodisiac and stimulant, which would promote human health and lengthen life. Common Aztec names were cacahuatl ("bitter water") or tlilxochitl ("black flower").
Evolution of Cacao in Cuisine
The word cocoa which means "bitter water" comes from the Olmec people of Mesoamerica who first cultivated the plant which was thought to have been around 1000BC – 1400 BC. The Spanish took control of cocoa and merged it into their culture calling it "chocolate" after the drink they were making out of the beans and there the word chocolate was originated.
Chocolate was also served at royal banquets, where it was mixed with peppers (chili peppers), cornmeal, honey, vanilla, and other spices. It was primarily consumed by wealthy royals.
The drink that resulted from chocolate's combination with these ingredients helped give rise to Mayan cuisine as we know it today.
It is an important ingredient in Mexican cuisine and regarded as essential to certain celebrations, such as the Mesoamerican ballgame ceremonial uses or the Rain Ceremony. Chocolate began to spread beyond Central America after the Spanish conquest of Yucatan.
Tales of Cocoa
The Mayan's believed that the god Quetzacoatl brought them the cacao seeds as gifts when he visited Earth. Tales passed through generations tell how the god would throw the cacao beans against a rock and then shout "read" or "hear."
Decorative markings would appear on the cocoa beans, which were used to tell fortunes. And the chocolate was considered as the food of the gods.
Cacao was considered an aphrodisiac and stimulant, which would promote human health and lengthen life. The drink was consumed by the elite class of the Mayans because it tasted good and made them feel energized.
Cacao as fortune
The cocoa beans were also used as currency in many transactions. As time went on, cocoa's use spread beyond the elite classes to warriors, hunters, and the children of nobles, who all consumed it. It became an important trade commodity between groups along the Pacific coast.
Although cocoa beans were used as currency, they remained so precious that Aztec traders took them using backpacks to their homeland of the Aztecs in return for subsistence goods.
Travel of Cacao to Europe
In 1519, a Spanish conquistador named Hernán Cortés led a small band of men from Cuba to the Yucatan Peninsula. One of his soldiers, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, was the first European to taste chocolate when he went ashore and drank some chocolate drink with other native warriors before going into battle.
Spanish friars were the first to bring back cocoa beans from Central America and began making chocolate beverages almost immediately. It was considered an aphrodisiac because of its stimulant properties (caffeine) for those who drank it.
In 1585, King Phillip II of Spain brought cacao seeds to the French court where his wife Queen Elizabeth I was known for her love of sweets and pastries. The queen continued importing cocoa from her native country - Spain, although she did not drink it herself but instead used it in her recipes for pastries and baked goods.
Evolution of Cacao as food
In many cultures, chocolate is a symbol of fertility. The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank up to 50 golden goblets of it daily, believing that it increased his stamina. When Cortés brought cocoa back to Spain, he served it at his wedding in 1565 and Spanish monks who had been unable to get the recipe from him made their own version.
The popularity of the drink led people all over Europe to try substituting their own ingredients for some of its components such as sugar or milk. Chocolate consumption skyrocketed during this time period and became a staple ingredient in many other recipes including puddings, cakes, creams, and even bread.
The first desserts of chocolate were consumed by the Spanish aristocracy of the 16th century. It was generally sweetened with honey or sugar, which was not common at that time in Europe.
Chocolate recipes appeared in English cookery books starting in 1615, but it did not become popular until nearly a century later when it combined with spices and vanilla to make "chocolate creams," a creamy molded dessert made from chocolate, cream, and eggs. In 1780, Francois Massalot published his famous book on chocolate truffles.
In the 1700s, cocoa beans reached North America where they were planted in French colonies such as Martinique Guadeloupe for making cocoa drinks. It was also exported to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam (New York) and further south in South America.
The need for plantations to meet the growing world demand for chocolate led the cocoa plant to be transplanted from South America to other locations.
The Dutch began growing it on plantations in their colonies of Southeast Asia and Africa, the British planted it in their new colony of Jamaica, and French entrepreneurs started them in tropical climates including their West Indian islands.
Cocoa became popular in North America mainly the United States during the 19th century because of its low price, which made it accessible to people who could not afford coffee or tea. It became a common breakfast drink for children, particularly hot chocolate.
Due to the spread of chocolate bars since about 1900, chocolate is eaten all over Asia today.
In China, it was introduced in 1727 and sold in tea houses. The major markets for cocoa beans are India (25%), North America (20%), and Europe (16%). Japan mostly imports from other countries rather than growing itself; Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia are the top growing countries.
Cacao was used for consumption in Asia way before the production of chocolate bars. According to historical records, cocoa was consumed in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and in Japan during the Nara period (645-794). It is speculated that it came with merchants importing goods from South America or with Buddhist priests who had traveled there.
Japan introduced cacao through Buddhist monks who traveled to China.
Current status of Cocoa
Today, cocoa beans are traded on the international market like many other agricultural commodities such as coffee, sugar, and fruits. Cocoa beans still hold cultural significance among various peoples across the world. The purest form of chocolate -chocolate liquor is still used by pharmacists to make medicine capsules and coat pills because it is completely inert.
Evolution of chocolate making
The production of chocolate has gone through many different changes throughout the years.
During Mayan times, cocoa beans were made into a spicy, foamy drink by mixing ground cocoa seeds with vanilla beans and spices such as chilies to create an end product similar to today's hot chocolate. The Mayans then dried the cocoa beans in the sun and crushed them with a stone.
As technology improved, so did chocolate making with the invention of the cocoa press. This device squeezed cocoa butter out of roasted beans leaving behind a dry cake that was crushed into powder form. This allowed for less expensive chocolate products but also increased their shelf life by reducing the moisture content.
The history of Chocolate
The brief history of chocolate starts with the first chocolate made by the Mayans in 2750 BC. The Mayans were one of the first people to use chocolate as food.
As years went on there were more discoveries found making chocolate even better.
Shakespeare's Othello (1604) talks about "chocolate flavored with Moore cane" suggesting that it was at least known in Europe by the early 17th century.
Who made the first Chocolate
There is great mystery and claims are going rounds about who made the first chocolate and the first milk chocolate bar.
The modern era of Chocolate Industry
In the 18th century, Joseph Fry perfected his chocolate manufacturing process by adding condensed milk to the mixture which gave it a more creamy texture. Soon after came the development of solid chocolate. Soon, Daniel Peter introduced the first chocolate bar.
By the end of the century, brought the invention of milk chocolate by Swiss confectioner Henri Nestlé and others with recent advancements in processing cocoa beans made it possible to add more sugar making the taste even better than before! Then John Cadbury created his own chocolate business selling cocoa drinks.
There is no end to the history of chocolate, since there are always new inventions with chocolate, and there is always something new coming out. The mass production of chocolate bars did not take off until the late 1920s.
Another important discovery for chocolate as Dutch chocolate maker Conrad J. Van Houten developed the process of removing all fat (cocoa butter) from the ground chocolate liquor giving us cocoa powder and cocoa butter. This created more affordable cocoa butter and chocolate.
Current Status of Chocolate
Chocolate is one of the most popular flavors today with its ever-increasing popularity making it one of the most common flavors worldwide! Its yummy taste and creamy texture make people want more and more! The history of chocolate never stops and keeps ongoing and growing.
In the 21st century, chocolate has become one of the most popular treats and is consumed in many different ways such as chocolate bars, truffles, biscuits (cookies), doughnuts, cakes, mousses, hot chocolate drinks, and more. We even have chocolate-flavored desserts such as Mint, strawberry Chocolate, etc.
Popularity of Chocolate
The world consumes about 1100 metric tons of chocolate a year with the US and India as one of the top countries. It is estimated that 1 in 10 people around the world eats chocolate which includes many different races and cultures.
There are more than 1 million cocoa farmers today. And it is planted across all countries.
The downside of Chocolate
Even with all these great things about chocolate, there are some downsides to it too.
Children not knowing when enough is enough and just eating too much causes them to get fat or even obese. Also, overconsumption of chocolates can cause tooth decay making cavities if they eat it too often.
Chocolate has become so popular over time that scientists have created chocolates that helps prevent tooth decay because of its antibacterial properties which could be harmful if consumed in high amounts but great tasting!
The downside of mass-produced Chocolate
In many factories, cacao seeds are roast and grind cocoa and mixed with other ingredients such as sugar, milk solids, vanilla, soy lecithin, and others and thereby they do not contain any traces of cacao bean itself.
Even many large industrial produced so-called chocolates will not mention the term "Chocolate" since it did not contain any cacao beans. It is essential to check the ingredients before consuming the chocolate.
Chocolate as health food
Chocolate has also been made into a medicine for heart conditions in its pure form. Pure chocolate is used as a mild stimulant and to treat heart conditions. It is said to also have some benefits for our health.
It can help lower stress levels, decrease the risk of heart diseases, improve brain activity with flavonols that are found in chocolate increasing blood flow to the brain just by eating it. Read more.
Chocolate as a beauty product
Chocolate has even evolved to be used as a beauty product as face masks, hair treatments, and also make-up products containing cocoa powder.
Pure chocolate can be used as a mild exfoliant and is a great treatment for dry skin.
Chocolate has also been made into shampoos, conditioners, creams, lotions, and lipsticks making them great beauty products!
Types of Chocolate
There are various types of chocolate available around the world.
Milk chocolate has a lower percentage of cocoa liquor than other types of chocolates because it has added ingredients such as milk powder or condensed milk. This gives the chocolate its mild taste and creamy texture!
White Chocolate contains little to no cocoa mass or even cocoa butter! There are different kinds of white chocolates based on their flavorings such as vanilla, strawberry, pistachio, etc. White chocolate can be found in chips and chunks too making them perfect for baking pastries and desserts.
Dark chocolate is known for its dark color and has a higher percentage of cocoa liquor which makes it the strongest of them all. It contains less sugar than other chocolates making it perfect for baking cakes, brownies, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, etc.
Cocoa powder has been made by using dried raw cocoa beans crushed into a fine powder! This cocoa powder consists of more concentrated cacao solids that are produced when you remove at least 75 percent of the fat content from chocolate liquor which makes it great for baking desserts such as cake or even hot beverages too!
Baking chocolate or unsweetened chocolate is an essential ingredient in most recipes especially baked goods such as cakes and brownies. It includes cocoa mass and cocoa powder without any sugar making them ideal for cake decorating!
The taste of chocolate has become enjoyable for us humans ever since we discovered its goodness back then. Through time, chocolate has evolved into different forms that were introduced not only through industries but also through companies that offer ingredients made from chocolates.
These were just some of the many uses and benefits of chocolate. Chocolate can be used as a medicine, beauty product, and even as an essential ingredient in baked goods both sweet and savory. This makes it great for those who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle while still enjoying their favorite treats!
Chocolate has evolved a lot from the past centuries and still does today. There is always something new coming out related to chocolate which makes it a popular flavor worldwide. So enjoy your delicious chocolates!