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History of Chocolate – the Power of the Bean – the Passion of the Drink

The history of chocolate is a intricate one spanning back to the days of the Aztec. They associated chocolate with their goddess of fertility Xochiquetzal. It was consumed as a drink called xocoatl, which was often seasoned with vanilla, chili pepper, and pimento. It was believed that this drink combated fatigue, a belief believed to be attributed to the theobromine content that is found in chocolate. Chocolate was considered a luxury though out Mesoamerica, so much so that the cacao beans were often used as currency. The taste itself, at this time, had to be bought. It bore no resemblance to the chocolate we know and like today. Jose de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who lived in Peru and then Mexico in the later 16th century, wrote:

“Loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant to taste. Yet it is a drink very much esteemed among the Indians, where with they feast noble men who pass through their country. The Spaniards, both men and women, that are accustomed to the country, are very greedy of this Chocolate. They say they make diverse sorts of it, some hot, some cold, and some temperate, and place therein much of that “chili” yea, they make paste thereof, the which they say is excellent for the stomach and against the catarrh.”

The first hints of chocolate were never known in the “ancient world” of Europe until when Christopher Columbus returned from his trip. He brought with him a few of the cacao beans to present to the king and queen of Spain. They were not met with much excitement because well, they were just beans.

It was not until around 1519 when the Spaniards and Cortez were first introduce to the drink xocoatl that any right use was found for chocolate beans. The drink itself was very bitter in nature, so the Spaniards had the thought to add sugar-cane to sweeten it. They brought this back to their country, where it underwent many changes, and was eventually received quite well.

Over time the chocolate making process went from small shops where it was made by hand to larger mass production. With the advent of the steam engine, the process of making chocolate was improved drastically. Because of this, in around 1730, prices soon dropped to within the reach of everyone, and was not limited to the wealthy anymore. The invention of the cocoa press in 1828 brought prices down even further, while improving the quality of the drink.

Two huge advancements in chocolate came in the 19th century. In 1847 an English company introduced the first solid eating chocolate. This was made possible through the development of fondant chocolate, a smooth and velvety variety that has nearly completely replaced the ancient coarse grained chocolate which formerly dominated the world market. The second advancement was in 1876 in Vevey, Switzerland, when Daniel Peter devised a way of adding milk to the chocolate, making the product we delight in today known as milk chocolate.

Joe Cobb
website: Forever-Chocolates.com Forever-Chocolates.com
October 16, 2006

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