600 AD – The cocoa bean is considered the ultimate status symbol in the Mayan and Aztec cultures. They use the beans as currency and those wealthy enough to have an excess of beans use them to make a chocolate drink that gives them “wisdom and power”.

1000 AD – Emperor Montezuma, who no doubt possesses more cocoa beans than anybody else at the time is a “chocoholic.” Montezuma, it is reported, drinks nothing but chocolate, particularly before entering his harem. He believes that the concoction is a powerful aphrodisiac.

1492 – Not only did Columbus sail the ocean blue, but brought cocoa beans back to Spain. He was the first European to discover cocoa and chocolate.

1519 – Hernando Cortez builds a cocoa plantation for the express purpose of growing money in the name of Spain. Eventually Cortez descends upon the Aztecs and eventually destroys Montezuma’s former chocolate capital.

1528 – Cortez returns to Spain with cocoa beans and the tools needed to make chocolate. Not that he is particularly fond of the concoction. In fact, he is said to personally have found the drink distasteful, probably because the Aztec method of preparation called for flavoring the drink with spices, including lots of chili. Spanish cooks quickly remedy that by changing the recipe, replacing the peppers with sugar.

1606 – Spain manages to keep the discovery of chocolate a secret for more than a century. Antonio Carletti, an Italian merchant, breaks the Spanish monopoly of the chocolate trade.

1616 – A Spanish princess married Louis XIII of France and the secret got out. Chocolate spread from France to England, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

1657 – England’s first chocolate house opens in London. It’s a big hit with the upper class and soon becomes the place where the elite meet to sip.

1697 – Belgium is already established as one of Europe’s premier centers for the production of chocolate. When the mayor of Zurich pays a visit to Brussels, he’s so taken with the taste he returns home with news of the savory concoction, the inspiration for a new Swiss industry and no doubt a personal supply to savor for some time to come.

1712 – By the turn of the 18th century, chocolate makes its way back to North America. In little more than a decade, Boston apothecary shops are advertising and selling chocolate imported from Europe. Soon, Massachusetts sea captains are bringing back cargoes of cocoa beans, and the chocolate trade blossoms.

1765 – American colonists crave chocolate and the demand prompts James Baker and John Hannon to start their own industrial revolution by building a chocolate factory that uses water power to mechanize the production process. Their company, today known as the Walter Baker Company, is one of the oldest still operating in the US.

1815 – Dutch chocolate maker C.J. van Houten patented an inexpensive method for pressing the fat from roasted cacao beans. The center of the bean, known as the”nib” contains an average of 54 % cocoa butter, which is a natural fat. Van Houten’s machine, a hydraulic press, reduced the cocoa butter content by nearly half. This created a “cake” that could be pulverized into a fine powder known as”cocoa”. The powder was treated with alkaline salts so that the powder would mix more easily with water. Today, this process is known as “Dutching”. The final product, Dutch chocolate, has a dark color and a mild taste.

1876 – The Swiss Daniel Peter was trying to add milk to chocolate to produce a smoother chocolate. However, you can’t add water to chocolate, it makes the chocolate shrink and separate and generally disintergrate. Milk has water in it. Daniel Peter met Henri Nestle’. Nestle’ had perfected the manufacture of condensed milk , so and Peter added milk solids to chocolate and produced the world’s first milk chocolate, as well as starting the Nestle’ Company.

1879 – It was Rodolphe Lindt, from Switzerland, who thought to add cocoa butter back to chocolate. Adding the additional cocoa butter, which is essential to the modern manufacture of chocolate, helps the chocolate set up into a bar that will “snap” when broken as well as making it melt ont the tongue. The Swiss are the first to add powdered milk to the process and they refine the chocolate making art by introducing a “conching” machine that gives chocolate confections a smooth, creamy texture

1895 – Milton S. Hershey sells his first Hershey Bar in Pennsylvania using modern, mass-production techniques that make the product less expensive and thus available for mass consumption.

The rest is delicious history!

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