Chocolate is one of the most delicious and truly indulgent yet utterly affordable things to eat and is pretty much universally loved by people of all ages and nationalities.
The history of chocolate is absolutely fascinating, and the humble cocoa bean has travelled a long and incredible way to the form you regularly consume it in now. With that in mind, continue reading for a concise guide to chocolate and its development through the years.
Cacao plants were first found in Mesoamerica. They were eaten on special occasions and were used to create bitter fermented drinks that were mixed with other ingredients, such as chilis and maize. The Olmecs were the first to drink it during religious ceremonies, and both the Mayans and the Aztecs associated cacao beans with their gods. Cacao beans were so valuable, they were used as currency by the Aztecs too.
It was thought that Emperor Montezuma gifted Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés a drink made of cacao, and that he brought it back to Spain. Another theory suggests that it was Christopher Columbus who introduced the cacao bean to Spain. Most theories on how the cacao bean first arrived in Europe have been disputed; however. It is known that cacao was brought to Spain sometime in the early 16th century and it’s popularity increased over the centuries as people learned of it’s culinary uses.
Key Events In The Development Of Chocolate
After the first chocolate shop opened in England in 1657, the development of chocolate and the introduction of the delicious luxury to locals and members of the general population happened quickly. The popularity of chocolate grew exponentially.
Following are the key events in the timeline of chocolate development:
1765 – The first chocolate shop in the USA opens.
1847 – The first chocolate bar is made.
1849 – The first box of chocolates is created.
1875 – Milk chocolate is invented.
1899 – During the Boer War, Queen Victoria bought every single British soldier a bar of chocolate.
1905 – The very first bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk is produced.
1932 – The Terry’s Chocolate Orange goes on sale.
1938 – Cadbury’s Roses are produced.
1959 – Caramac is created.
1962 – After Eight mints go on sale.
1983 – Cadbury’s Wispa is invented.
Emotional Connection To Chocolate
No matter where you are from, most people have an emotional connection to chocolate. There can be nothing better for a Christmas or birthday gift, and holiday chocolate gift boxes are always gratefully received and thoroughly appreciated.
Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has a multitude of advantages to one’s mental and emotional health and wellbeing, which include but are in no way limited to:
- The lowering of blood pressure.
- Powerful antioxidants which are great for the skin as well as the brain.
- Huge benefits to the strengthening of brain function and cognitive recall.
- Eating dark chocolate produces endorphins which are known as the ‘happy hormones’ and produce a similar effect in the brain to serotonin.
- The protection from ‘free radicals’ which cause diseases can be taken from small amounts of dark chocolate.
It is remarkable how chocolate has developed over the centuries, and it is easy to see how it has become a popular treat for many.
Image Credits: Pixabay