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History of Chocolate

The love of chocolate has a long history. Chocolate and cocoa powder originate from Cocoa Beans, the seeds of a fruit from the Coca Tree (The Aroma Cacao). The Cocao Tree was cultivated by the Maya Indians, the Inca of Peru, the Taltec’s and the Aztecs of Mexico over 3000 years ago. Its fruit appeased the gods, hence the saying “Food of the Gods”. The beans were used as currency and to prepare a bitter beverage, mixed with spices that were at times used as a ceremonial drink.

In 1502 Christopher Columbus introduced the cocoa bean to Spain. Henando Cortez (Conqueror of Mexico in 1519) returned to Spain in 1527 and brought with him more coca beans and the Aztec’s recipe for preparing ‘Xocoatyl’ (Bitter Water) which he had tasted in the Court of Montezuma, Mexico.

In Spain the bean was crushed and mixed with sugar and spices and soon became a popular drink with the nobles. It remained a closely guarded secret for almost a century but with intermarriage between the royal families it eventually gained a popularity throughout Europe and remained an expensive luxury.

In 1657 a French man opened a shop in London selling both the hot chocolate drink and solid chocolate to be made into a beverage. The process for preparing eating chocolate was not developed until the 19th Century. In 1828 the Dutchman, C. J. Van Houten, patented a process to obtain “Chocolate Powder” (cocoa powder as we now know it) by pressing much cocoa butter from ground and roasted beans – a less fatty cocoa drink.

Some twenty years later Fry and Sons of Bristol in England, combined the extracted cocoa butter with chocolate liquor and sugar to make the first eating chocolate ‘Delicieux a Manger’ which went on sale in 1847-1848. John Cadbury founded the firm of Cadbury 1824. He was an established tea and coffee merchant. Cadbury’s (George & Richard Cadbury, sons of John) released Cocoa Essence, a pure Cocoa product made possible by a Dutch invention.

In 1876 Daniel Peter of Switzerland added dried milk to the process to make milk chocolate, as we know it today. Swiss Milk Chocolate was preferred and it wasn’t until 1904 that the Swiss Monopoly was seriously challenged. Henri Nestle in Switzerland had formulated dried milk powder and condensed milk was invented in America. The result of combining the two was a milk chocolate bar called ‘Gala Peter’ which Nestle developed in 1875. Henri Nestle was awarded a diploma at an International Exhibition in Paris in 1878.

A chocolate Merchant called Jean Tobler opened his own Chocolate factory in Berne in Switzerland in 1899. “Toblerone” had been invented, a special blend of cocoa and almonds.

Rodolfe Lindt invented the conching machine where the re addition of coca butter to the cocoa mass (the crushed and ground cocoa beans) followed by a prolonged kneading process produced a glossy, velvety smoothness to the chocolate.

Throughout the 19th Century Chocolate gradually became available to more and more people through the industrialisation of its manufacturing process. The French were major consumers as well as manufacturers. The Swiss Company Nestle brought the company Menier and the Germans were smashing records for imports. Chocolate began to be used in cooking. In 1912, the Belgian Jean Neuhaus invented the bite size chocolate filled with various soft centres and by way of contract Forrest Mars invented the filled chocolate bar in 1925.

The rest, as they say, is ‘History’. The large chocolate manufacturing companies are head to head in a desperate struggle to increase their market share. They dream up more and more diverse products to appeal to a greater number of consumers.