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History of Chocolate

Chocolate : An Age-Old Obsession

Chocolate is a common ingredient in many kinds of sweets -one of the most popular in the world .For at least 4000 years, chocolate …..like gold has had a universal appeal.

With a history as rich and as deep as the product itself, chocolate has been providing pleasure, comfort and health benefits for thousands of years. Universally adored and recognized as the food of the gods, chocolate was first consumed more than 3000 years ago by the Olmec and Aztec civilizations in South America.

Centuries later traders took the first cocoa products to Europe where it soon evolved into the delicious, creamy temptation we know today.

A few experiences wrap as much pleasure as a piece of delicious chocolate. The vivacious story of chocolate from historical times finds roots in the Mayan civilization of Yucatan. Facts point to cacao tree that is believed to have been discovered 2,000 years ago in the tropical rainforests of the Americas.

It is also believed that the Aztecs of Mexico who cultivated cocoa crops also began consuming cocoa beans with a unique preparation called Chocolate. A popular myth says that Emperor Montezuma drank 50 or more portions of bitter Chocolate daily! The first written evidence also leads us to the times of Columbus. The myth goes around that the Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in Spain had their first glimpse of chocolate when Columbus, after his return from the Americas, presented them with brown cocoa beans along with many valuables. The beans that looked like almonds did not initially stir any interest. These were cocoa beans, our source today to chocolate and cocoa.

It is known that Don Cotes recognized the commercial value of cocoa as a delectable drink. It is noted that he introduced cocoa beans to Europe. To make the concoction more enjoyable to Europeans, Cortez sweetened the drink with cane sugar. He sent back some chocolate preparation recipes and Spanish cocoa beans. Linnaeus, a botanist from Sweden is also credited with plantation of cocoa. He named the genus theobroma which means the food of gods. The Aztecs of Mexico are also known to believe in mystical origin of the cocoa tree.

Spaniards did not find the bitter version of Chocolate delightful enough. They sweetened the drink using cane sugar. The popularity of the cocoa drink in Spain eventually led to its secret cultivation and preparation. Historical evidence points at Spaniards cultivated cocoa in an isolated area in Trinidad in an attempt to keep it a secret from rest of the world. The Spanish later started growing cocoa in West Indies and also in Philippines. It is interesting to discover that the Spanish kept the art of the cocoa production a secret from the rest of Europe for about a century.

The popularity of the chocolate drink was soon to reach the corners in Italy, France and parts of Holland, till it finally arrived in England in 1600. The drink was expensive and became popular in elite class. The 18th century saw commercialization of the popular drink and the prices began to drop in Bristol in England. Sir J.S. Fry set up the first commercial factory of chocolate in 1728.

The discovery of solid cubes of chocolate is not very ancient. An English company in 1847 is accredited with production of eating chocolate with the use of fondant chocolate with a smooth and velvety look. However, the full-fledged production of chocolate is traced back to 1765 in New England. Till then, grained chocolate dominated the world market. One significant development took place in Vevey in Switzerland in the year 1876. Switzerland's Daniel Peter discovered a way of adding milk to chocolate, the crude version of today's popular milk chocolate that we enjoy so much.

There are many amusing facts related to the history of chocolate. From the first bitter drink to a refined version of chocolate, the world of chocolate lovers has many chapters to reveal and amuse itself. However, chocolate by any name tastes just as delicious and rich as the name goes