Chocolate was developed roughly 4,000 years ago, around 1900 B.C., by pre-Olmec civilizations residing in present-day Mexico. A particularly rare plant, the cocoa plant, grows in that zone. Cacao beans are produced by the cacao plant and are used to manufacture chocolate. We did not use the cacao beans to produce chocolate bars by the Olmecs. Rather, they roasted the beans, crushed them up, combined the mixture with some spices and maybe a little honey, and then drank it warm.
This cacao beverage may seem similar to hot chocolate, but it tastes rather different. Cacao beans may be harsh if not sweetened. So, what made the Olmecs desire to drink something that tasted bitter? Cacao was popular as a god’s food among the Olmec people. They used it to boost one’s mood, and only a few individuals, such as kings, priests, and soldiers, were allowed to use it. The Mayans discovered cacao throughout time. Around 600 A.D., the Mayans began cultivating cacao beans on vast scales on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
Chocolate became popular among the Aztecs as a result of industry. Their term for chocolate was oxalate, which sounds somewhat similar to the word we use today. Cacao beans got so valuable that the Aztecs used them as money. They may use chocolate beans to purchase items.
So if you want to know more about the history of Chocolate, you’re welcome here. Read on as we explore all the facts about this topic.
What Is Chocolate
According to “Chocolate: Food of the Gods,” an online exhibit from the Cornell University Library, chocolate is a product of the fruit of the Theobroma cacao. It’s a tropical tree whose name means “food of the gods” in Greek. Theobroma cacao trees are endemic to South America’s Amazon and Orinoco river basins. We may find the trees from southeastern Mexico to the Amazon River. According to Cornell, they flourish in hot, humid regions within roughly 20 degrees of the equator. As the popularity of chocolate grew, farmers planted plantations in various parts of the world, including West Africa, South and Southeast Asia. Brazil now accounts for 79 percent of global cocoa output.
We harvest Cacao seeds by hand because machines could injure the trees. It then goes through months-long procedures to reach its final form.
Types of Chocolates
Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate are the three types of fine chocolate.
- Chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, lecithin, sugar, and vanilla are all ingredients in dark chocolate.
- Milk chocolate contains all of those above, as well as milk fats and solids.
- White chocolate includes all of the same ingredients as milk chocolate, with the exception of chocolate liquor.
The Olmec Indians have been the first to cultivate cocoa beans (“kakawa”) as a household crop. Cacao trees have been growing wild for at least 10,000 years. The Olmec civilization existed until around 300 B.C.
Between 250 and 900, The Mayas inherited much of the culture of the Olmec, including the term “xocoatl.” Cocoa beans are only popular in the Mayan aristocracy in the form of an unsweetened cocoa drink. It was prepared from ground beans.
The Maya traveled into northern South America and Mesoamerica, constructing the first documented cocoa plantations in Yucatan. Nobles consume foamy “cacau” from tall ceramic beakers. Beans are a valuable commodity that is also popular as a form of payment as well as a unit of measurement. Beans are both local and international currency: a turkey may sell for 200 beans, while a tomato can sell for three beans when the Maya trade with the Aztecs, 400 beans equal one Aztec Zontli, and 8000 beans equal one Aztec Xiquipilli.
The Maya start trading with the Aztecs, giving them cacau. The Aztecs called it “cacahuatl” (ca-ca-WAH-tel). This also translates as “warm or bitter liquid.” Xocolatl has flavors of indigenous spices such as chile, cinnamon, musk, pepper, and vanilla, thickened with cornmeal. They serve it at room temperature, filling it in a bowl with a molinillo.
Cacahuatl gained popularity among the Aztec higher classes. The Aztecs regard cacao as a gift from the deity of light, Quetzalcoatl, a plumed snake. The Aztecs are the first to tax beans and limit them to noblemen, priests, bureaucrats, warriors, and the wealthy businessmen who provide them. It is a rejuvenator, a medical revitalizer, a ceremonial beverage, and a prolonger of life. It is also available at the conclusion of feasts.
Cacao beans were brought back to King Ferdinand by Christopher Columbus on his 4th trip to the New World, but people neglected them in favor of the many other treasures he discovered.
Columbus tastes cacao during his fourth and last journey to the New World. Columbus comes upon a large Mayan trading boat carrying cocoa beans on the island of Guanaja, off the coast of Honduras. (Almost 500 years later, Valrhona, the renowned chocolate business, created a grand cru chocolate bar in honor of the island, and it is magnificent chocolate.) He brings beans to the King and Queen of Spain, but Ferdinand and Isabella perceive little actual value in them.
Hernan Cortès, a Spanish adventurer, conquers a portion of Mexico. By accident, his arrival coincides with the expected return from his travels of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl—the god who gave cacao to the people and taught them how to produce it. Quetzalcoatl is popular to have white skin and a beard, and Cortès is originally misidentified as the god. Cacao was at the Aztec court of Emperor Montezuma in San Juan de Ulloa, according to Hernando Cortez (Vera Cruz, Mexico). He establishes a cocoa plantation to “generate money” in the name of Spain, launching a two-century Spanish cocoa monopoly.
Antonio Carletti, an Italian adventurer, discovers chocolate in Spain and brings it to Italy, where chocolate mania develops: chocolatiers open in all major cities. Chocolate spreads from Italy have made their way to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
The Spanish Princess Maria Theresa sends her French fiancé Louis XIV an engagement gift of chocolate wrapped in an exquisite, decorative chest. In Spanish-Franco culture, their marriage is symbolic of the marriage of chocolate. The popularity of chocolate continues to expand throughout Europe.
The earliest publication of a chocolate recipe, based on the Aztec recipe, is by the Spanish doctor Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma.
Coenraad Van Houten developed the cocoa press, a hydraulic press that extracts some of the cocoa butter from the beans while leaving the defatted cocoa powder behind.
Stollwerck, a German baker, starts a firm that develops to become one of Germany’s largest, manufacturing a wide range of chocolate goods and brands.
The first known published recipe for chocolate brownies occurs in Fanny Merritt Farmer’s The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. A common reference for the first publishing of brownies, in the 1897 Sears and Roebuck Catalogue, is incorrect. That recipe is for molasses candy called brownies, not chocolate and flour-brownie bar. The recipe from the Boston Cooking-School Cook Book calls for flour and two squares of Baker’s chocolate.
Derry Church, Pennsylvania, Milton Hershey’s birthplace, is renamed Hershey.
Chocolate in War
During the American Revolutionary War, chocolate was so valuable that it was included in troops’ rations and used in place of salaries. While most of us wouldn’t accept a chocolate wage these days, statistics demonstrate that the simple cacao bean remains a significant economic force. In the United States, chocolate manufacture is a more than $4 billion-dollar business, and the average American consumes at least half a pound of the stuff each month.
Modern Chocolate Era
In the twentieth century, the term “chocolate” came to refer to a variety of low-cost sweets that contained more sugar and chemicals than genuine cacao and were frequently manufactured from the toughest but least tasting bean types (forastero).
However, there has lately been a “chocolate revolution,” according to Leaf, characterized by an increased interest in high quality. They are making handcrafted chocolates as well as sustainable, effective cacao cultivation and harvesting practices. Major businesses, such as Hershey’s, have extended their artisanal chocolate lines by acquiring smaller makers. They have been recognized for luxury chocolates, such as Scharffen Berger and Dagoba, while independent chocolatiers thrive.
The Chocolate Revolution
Chocolate’s history continues as the dessert remained extremely popular among European nobility. The royalty enjoyed chocolate and the upper classes for its health advantages as well as its indulgence. Chocolate was still in the making with hands, which was a time-consuming and arduous procedure. But, with the Industrial Revolution on the horizon, everything was about to change. The introduction of the chocolate press in 1828 changed chocolate production. This ingenious apparatus could extract cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a fine cocoa powder. After that, the powder was combining with liquids and put into a mold, where it hardened into an edible chocolate bar.
This is also how the modern era of chocolate started. After a few decades, the Magnum Classic ice cream bar arrives on the scene. Magnum introduced the traditional chocolate ice cream that we all know and loved in 1989. We can trace the magnum’s roots back to Belgium. Our premium Belgian chocolate manufacturer created a one-of-a-kind chocolate covering with a distinctive crack to compliment smooth vanilla ice cream.
However, just one taste was insufficient. Magnum White and Almond were among the new Magnums in 1992. We’ve been developing ever since, from Magnum Mini to our most decadent Magnum, Magnum Double.