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Who Invented Chocolate? The Sweet History of Chocolate

Updated on August 1, 2014

History of Chocolate - Who Invented This Tasty Treat?

Who was the inventor of chocolate? Well, you could give credit to many people, from the Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilizations that discovered the cacao bean, to the Dutch inventor who created a press to make cocoa powder, to the Englishman who invented the world's first eating chocolate. From there, other chocolate inventions followed.

Along the way, people kept finding new ways to enjoy chocolate. Today, you can buy anything from single chocolate bars to large chocolate gift baskets to enjoy this delectable treat. Here's more about how the world's favorite treat was invented.

(Image from Amazon)

A Short History of Chocolate

Who invented chocolate? Many people can claim credit for various steps along the way

Discovering the Cacao (Cocoa) Bean

The history of chocolate dates back to early Mesoamerican civilizations. As early as 1500 BC, the Olmec Indians were growing cacao beans. The Mayans and Aztecs also grew cacao and developed chocolate drinks.

Christopher Columbus can claim the credit for being the first person to bring cocoa beans to Europe in the early 1500s, and chocolate drinks became popular in Spain. But it wasn't until nearly 100 years later that the flavor spread to other parts of Europe.

Chocolate Spreads Across Europe

In 1657, a Frenchman opened the first chocolate house in London. The shop was called the The Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll, and due to the cost of the drink, chocolate was a beverage that could only be enjoyed by the upper class.

Chocolate's popularity continued to grow, however, and by 1674, it had become an ingredient used in cakes and rolls.

The spread and production of chocolate reached another milestone in 1732, when Monsieur Dubuisson of France invented a table mill that could grind chocolate.

The Invention of the Chocolate Bar

Joseph Fry of Bristol, England, made the next major leap, with the invention of a steam engine for grinding the beans. This allowed chocolate to be manufactured on a larger scale. Fry & Sons (which would later merge with Cadbury) can also claim one of the most important inventions in the history of chocolate - the modern chocolate bar in 1847 (although Cadbury's web site says, "by today's standards these original chocolate bars would not be considered very palatable.")

Before Fry & Sons could create the chocolate bar, however, Dutchman Conrad J. van Houten invented a hydraulic press in 1929 that was used to create cocoa powder. Today this process is known as "Dutching."

From there, chocolate took off. Richard Cadbury is said to have created the first known heart-shaped box for Valentine's Day in 1861, and Daniel Peters of Switzerland produced the first milk chocolate bar in 1875, using powdered milk that had been invented by Henri Nestle a few years earlier.

Rudolphe Lindt kept things moving by inventing a process called "conching," which improved chocolate by making it more blendable.

Now it's everywhere!

Now chocolate comes in all flavors (milk, dark, white), with nuts, caramels, cherries and all other kinds of goodies, in cakes, pies, and cookies, and in all shapes and sizes, from bite-size pieces to monster-sized chocolates shaped like Santa, the Easter Bunny or other creatures. You can find chocolate fountains, chocolate fondue, cookbooks devoted to nothing but chocolate, and even chocolate Christmas ornaments. It's everywhere!

And to think it all started with a simple little bean...

Like many great inventions, the chocolate chip cookie was created by accident.

Ruth Wakefield, a dietician-turned innkeeper, was baking cookies for guests at her Toll House lodge in Massachusetts when she discovered she didn't have baker's chocolate. So she substituted a semi-sweet chocolate candy bar cut into little pieces. But, unlike the baker's chocolate, the candy bar didn't melt completely. She had inadvertently created the world's first chocolate chip cookie.

The resulting creation became popular at the inn, and soon Ruth's recipe was printed in several New England newspapers. The cookie was a hit. As the new chocolate chip cookie's popularity soared, so did sales of the Nestle semi-sweet chocolate bar used in the cookies, and eventually Ruth Wakefield and Nestle reached an agreement that allowed the company to print the Toll House cookie recipe on the label of Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate bar. As part of the agreement, Ruth received a lifetime supply of chocolate for baking her famous cookies.

Too bad all accidents don't turn out this well, eh?

(Photo provided by allposters)

chocolate chip cookie
chocolate chip cookie

The Toll House Cookie Recipe

The chocolate chip cookie recipe that started it all

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped nuts

Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

(Image provided by amazon)

Richard Cadbury introduced the first chocolate box in 1868. According to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, the box had a painting of Cadbury's daughter holding a kitten in her arms. Later he began creating other boxes, including the now-popular heart-shaped Valentine's Day candy box.

Thanks to Mr. Cadbury, 36 million heart-shaped boxes are now sold every year in the United States alone, according to MSN.

Chocolate Trivia

Fun facts about chocolate

- The first known published recipe for chocolate brownies appeared in the Sears & Roebuck Catalogue in 1897.

- Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to John Adams in 1875 declaring chocolate to be superior to coffee and tea

- Africa is now the world's leading producer of cacao beans

- It would take 875,00 chocolate chip cookies to provide one adult with the energy to walk around the world, according to the Godiva website

- The largest chocolate bar ever manufactured weighed 5,026 lbs and was exhibited by Elah-Dufour United Food Companies at Eurochocolate in Turin, Italy in March 2000

- Napoleon reportedly carried chocolate with him on his military missions

- Chocolate syrup was used for blood in the famous shower seen in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" movie

Books About Chocolate

Virtually everyone loves chocolate. So is it any wonder that there are plenty of books on the subject? Here are a few titles to help you learn more about chocolate and cook up your own tasty treats

personalized chocolate bar
personalized chocolate bar

Personalized Chocolates

Now there's a great invention!

What could be better than a gift of chocolate? A gift of personalized chocolate! If you're looking for a great gift idea for a chocolate lover, think big. At HersheysStore.com, you can order an enormous 5 lb. milk chocolate bar personalized with your message and a photo, or you can get smaller bars that can be customized, too. You can also get plenty of other chocolate gifts here, including personalized 7oz Hershey's Kisses and the world's largest Reese's peanut butter cups

world's largest chocolate fountain
world's largest chocolate fountain

The World's Tallest Chocolate Fountain

Where else but Vegas would you find the world's largest chocolate fountain?

Las Vegas is the Capital of Excess and Extreme. So it makes sense that Sin City should be home to the world's tallest chocolate fountain. The fountain is a floor-to-ceiling masterpiece located in the Bellagio.

According to a Bellagio press release, "Displaying a spectacular series of melted chocolate cascades, this first-of-its-kind spectacle is the tallest chocolate fountain in the world. Designed by award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Philippe Maury and Norwood and Antonia Oliver Design Associates, Inc., the fountain took a year and a half in planning and design.

The result is a genius work of kinetic sculpture and a daring feat of engineering. Standing 27-feet tall, the masterpiece circulates nearly two tons of melted dark, milk and white chocolate at a rate of 120 quarts per minute."

Chocolate worshippers have found their temple.

(Photo credit: whistlepunch on Flickr via Creative Commons license)

Buy Chocolate Fountains Online - Smaller than the Bellagio fountain and just right for your home

You don't need the world's largest chocolate fountain to enjoy cascading chocolate. Just pick up one of these handy little fountains and soon you'll be enjoying your own chocolate waterfall.

What's the Best Kind of Chocolate?

See results

Vegan Chocolate - Because vegans shouldn't miss out on one of the world's best inventions

Vegans need chocolate, too. But with a world full of milk chocolate products, it's not always easy to find vegan chocolate. So what's a vegan to do? Go to Amazon. Yes, the Internet mega store even has vegan chocolate. Check it out yourself.

Turn Yourself Into An M&M

Here's a chocolate invention you can create yourself

Internet marketers are a creative group, and the folks at M&M have turned that creativity into a fun little website called BecomeAnMM.com. As the name suggests, this site lets you create your own personalized M&M character. Now you don't have to settle for loving chocolate. You can reinvent yourself in chocolate.

(Note: HTML has been turned off due to spamming. I apologize to all the legitimate Squidoo lensmasters who might have had a relevant link to add here.)

Chocoholics, speak out! - Love chocolate? Then let us know you were here

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    • paulahite profile image

      Paula Hite 3 years ago from Virginia

      oh yum! Now I need to find some! In the meantime, your lens will be on Tumblr on May 9.

      http://whats-cooking-at-squidoo.tumblr.com/

    • PattiJAdkins profile image

      PattiJAdkins 3 years ago

      A great lens for chocoholics like me :)

    • Essy K profile image

      Essy K 3 years ago from South Dakota

      Everybody knows the Swiss perfected chocoalate. ^.^

    • profile image

      Doc_Holliday 3 years ago

      Just give me some chocolate - and nobody will get hurt :-)

    • MVKilgore profile image

      M. Victor Kilgore 3 years ago

      Tasty lens indeed...nice job

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 3 years ago from New York

      A very tasty subject. I enjoyed reading the fun trivia.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 3 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Love the lens - lots of great info. Who cares who actually invented the stuff - I'm just glad they did! ;)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Not only do I love chocolate, but I also love history, and this fits both things. A perfect day for chocolate lenses, since it's Valentine's Day! I'm including your lens on my Facebook page Hand In Glove With History, because it carries so much about the history of chocolate.

    • RestlessKnights profile image

      RestlessKnights 3 years ago

      I'm a chocoholic to be honest. White, milk or dark, bring it on!

    • seleen fouad profile image

      seleen fouad 3 years ago

      lm a chocolate eater thanx for the info

    • seleen fouad profile image

      seleen fouad 3 years ago

      great info I love chocolate

    • Baddew Fibes profile image

      Baddew Fibes 4 years ago

      Where's that Mars Bar....?! Chocolate rules!!

    • profile image

      tonyleather 4 years ago

      I love chocolate far more than it loves my waistline!

    • LluviaDeArte profile image

      LluviaDeArte 4 years ago

      Amazing lovely chocolate. Thanks for including the Bellagio Fountain photo. Awesome.

    • SandyDell profile image

      Sandy Dell 4 years ago from Lenore, Idaho

      Very cool lens! Thanks for sharing!!

    • profile image

      sbookstaff 4 years ago

      I love chocolate! Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for creating an informative lens. My daughter was a giant m&m for Halloween one year because we were fans of the candy. :)

    • profile image

      chat2vishakha 4 years ago

      Very informative post.I love chocolates.A big thanks for sharing this information.

    • LoriBeninger profile image

      LoriBeninger 4 years ago

      Yummy! Now I need to raid the kitchen to look for CHOCOLATE! Thanks for the diversion.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      I must buy Lindt dark chocolates regularly or I will pass away.

    • profile image

      othellos 4 years ago

      Excellent lens. You covered with... chocolate the keyboard of my computer! Thanks:=)

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 4 years ago

      Loved your lens I will admit I am a chocaholic.

    • SandyDell profile image

      Sandy Dell 4 years ago from Lenore, Idaho

      Dark chocolate is my favorite treat!

    • renewedfaith2day profile image

      renewedfaith2day 4 years ago

      My mouth waters just reading this. Kudos to those in mesoamerica who got the ball rolling on this.

    • LluviaDeArte profile image

      LluviaDeArte 4 years ago

      Lovely lens, on my favorite foodgroup, chocolate. Thank you!

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 4 years ago from New York

      I enjoyed your article. It reminds me of a very special book that I inherited from my great grandmother. "The Story of Chocolate and Cocoa", pub 1926 by the Hersey Chocolate Corp. It tells the fascinating history of chocolate and how they make it from bush to bar. I love how the book constantly touts chocolate as a "nourishing" food that should be part of every healthy diet. Sign me up for that!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I love chocolate. Great lens.

    • opatoday profile image

      opatoday 5 years ago

      Fun History

    • profile image

      lookupphonenumber 5 years ago

      Thanks for the sweet history of chocolate! Interesting and good read!

    • profile image

      MBCOnline 5 years ago

      Chocolate for dessert is what makes it worth eating your vegetables!

    • RamondaWillis profile image

      RamondaWillis 5 years ago

      Scrummy lens! Love love love chocolate!

    • theallin1writer profile image

      theallin1writer 5 years ago

      I can't live without chocolate. Now I want some!

    • GollyGearHope profile image

      Hope 5 years ago from Skokie, Illinois

      Two of my favorite things in the world - history and chocolate!

    • SandyDell profile image

      Sandy Dell 5 years ago from Lenore, Idaho

      Chocolate should be its own special food group!! I love dark chocolate and eat a little bit of it every day!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      Chocolate is my favorite food group! Great lens on its history.

    • iamraincrystal profile image

      Rosyel Sawali 5 years ago from Manila Philippines

      Love chocolates! I still believe they're the best things in life ^_^

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 5 years ago

      Always a celebration! Chocolate with nuts, chocolate with raisin. Chocolate drizzled over anything at all.

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      Chocolates are my favorite especially on raisins.

    • CozyKitty profile image

      CozyKitty 5 years ago

      Mmmmm chocolate! I (almost) wish I hadn't found this lens :) Someday I hope to own one of those Chocolate Fountains - they make such a spectacular centerpiece! :))

    • LaurisB LM profile image

      LaurisB LM 5 years ago

      What a fun lens! I LOVE chocolate. Fortunately we have some very good chocolate here in Peru.

    • joey92 profile image

      joey92 5 years ago

      interesting lens :)

    • profile image

      ellies lm 5 years ago

      I never met a chocolate I didn't like. But love Toblerone!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I'm so a chocolate lover. Great lens about chocolate.

    • MayaIxchel profile image

      MayaIxchel 5 years ago

      Oh, how I love chocolate!! Especially the kind made here in Guatemala, it is the best! Great lens!

    • profile image

      koukatn 5 years ago

      i like chocolate,great lens,thanks

    • profile image

      koukatn 5 years ago

      i like chocolate,great lens,thanks

    • jdwheeler profile image

      jdwheeler 5 years ago

      Mmmmmmm, chocolate. I wish I had had some while I was reading over this page learning about chocolate. Store run!

    • profile image

      AppleCiderVinegarWeightLoss 5 years ago

      Great lens on a great topic!

    • profile image

      Beautiful-Bedroom-Ideas 5 years ago

      Who knew there was so much ado about chocolate? I'm new here and really enjoyed this information.

    • SubheSaadik LM profile image

      SubheSaadik LM 5 years ago

      Chocolate is my favorite. But I've no idea of it's history. Thanks a lot.

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      Love, love, love chocolate! Squid Angel blessed!

    • ayng29 lm profile image

      ayng29 lm 5 years ago

      I really love chocolate and ice cream. I'm not really a sweet tooth because I only like those two sweets. I answered in the poll that I love milk chocolate. It's thrilling to know some history instead of just devouring all the time! Hahaha.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Chocolate is my favorite. Thanks to all who are related to invention of it.

    • profile image

      gradientcat 5 years ago

      I was recently in Las Vegas and saw the chocolate fountain, it was very cool.

    • Roisinee profile image

      Roisinee 5 years ago

      Love this lens! it's even better that I read it while eating a chocolate bar! Yum :) Anyway, thanks for making this, great information. :)

    • lclchors profile image

      lclchors 5 years ago

      fun lens thanks for the information I like to know what I eat

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Oh those toll house cookies..yum

    • Mandy Stradley profile image

      Mandy Stradley 5 years ago

      Lovely mouth watering chocolate :) Mmmm I want some right now!

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 5 years ago

      Oh, how can I resist anything on the topic of chocolate? I cannot. If I go to the ASD Trade Show in Vegas this year, I will make it a point to get you a bigger image of the Bellagio Chocolate Fountain. I didn't have time to see it last time I was in Las Vegas, but it's on my list, for sure! Loved, loved, loved this chocolate history and shopping trip. MMMMM Chocolate!!!

    • profile image

      glowchick 5 years ago

      Great lens~ all I can say is I am sooo glad they came up with all the delicious ways to use chocolate :)

    • Millionairemomma profile image

      Millionairemomma 5 years ago

      Like squidoo, chocolate is addictive. I enjoyed reading this lens so much. Made my sweet tooth wake up.

    • Blonde Blythe profile image

      Blonde Blythe 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens! Now I gotta go find me some chocolate! :)

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      Delicious article!! Great job on this lens! Kudos on being featured on the chocolate monsterboard!

    • melissiaoliver profile image

      melissiaoliver 5 years ago

      Yummy lens! I eat far too much chocolate though! For me, Cadbury's is and always will be the best.

    • profile image

      funbee lm 5 years ago

      Mmm, a very nice lens.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 5 years ago

      Chocoholic only????? I am the queen of chocolate!!!! This lens is totally BLESSED right now!

    • mel-kav profile image

      mel-kav 5 years ago

      I admit it - I am addicted to chocolate. I don't allow myself to buy it often - because I eat it all immediately!!!

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      I can do it, I can stay strong and stay away from the chocolate. Tomorrow. My name is Dee and I'm a chocoholic.

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

      I LOVE chocolate! I would love to dive into that chocolate fountain lol Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thank you, Ruth Wakefield, wherever you are! Nice lens, Lisa!

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 5 years ago

      Fascinating history. Thanks for the education.

    • HarrietC LM profile image

      HarrietC LM 5 years ago

      Wow! Thanks to the Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilizations, here's a hot mug of delicious chocolate to you! ^_^

    • WoodlandBard profile image

      WoodlandBard 5 years ago

      lots of new info, and vegan chocolate too, yum, yum, many thanks :-)

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      Mmm, chocolate! Thanks for sharing some yummy info!

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      What a wondeful lens!

    • KReneeC profile image

      KReneeC 5 years ago

      What a wonderful lens!

    • profile image

      StrongMay 5 years ago

      I Love Chocolate!!!!!

    • profile image

      crstnblue 5 years ago

      Very nice & complex lens! Tanks for sharing!

      Hmmm, need my milk chocolate now! : )

    • profile image

      grannysage 5 years ago

      The movie Chocolat is fantastic. You do know that chocolate is becoming so expensive that sometime soon we won't be able to afford it? Better eat as much as you can right now.

    • Darla Dixon profile image

      Darla Dixon 5 years ago

      Heavenly lens....must get some chocolate right away! :)

    • Sher Ritchie profile image

      Sher Ritchie 5 years ago

      I love your lens! Yes, its true Napoleon Bonaparte carried chocolate with him - he even had a special silver chocolate box which his valet filled and put in his (N's) pocket each morning. (I have a quiz-lens about Napoleon which mentions this). He also liked chocolate based desserts.

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      Thanks for the great info about one of my favorite things! I am indebted to those who perfected the creation of chocolate.

    • profile image

      klaird 5 years ago

      I love dark chocolate the best!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      There are definitely some inventions that we should do without that we couldn't do without!

    • profile image

      poutine 5 years ago

      I love chocolate and I am so glad that someone had the brain to figure it all out.

    • top101 profile image

      top101 5 years ago

      ver nice lens. Chocolate is awesome!

    • IanMayfield profile image

      IanMayfield 5 years ago

      Nice lens about a food with a rich (pun intended!) history and almost endless possibilities.

      I remember chocolate Christmas ornaments from when I was a kid. There would seldom be any left on the tree by the time Christmas Day arrived... but if you were lucky, you might still uncover one concealed deep inside the branches!

    • Ram Ramakrishnan profile image

      Ram Ramakrishnan 5 years ago

      Forget ambrosia of the gods, or even a loverâs sweet kiss.

      A chocolate slowly melting in the mouth is the ultimate bliss.

      Interesting biography of chocolate and a well made lens too.

    • vanidiana24 profile image

      vanidiana24 5 years ago

      I like chocolate and white chocolate, but not too much. Great lens and article!

    • ChrissLJ profile image

      ChrissLJ 5 years ago

      After living in Switzerland one summer, I became an extremely picky chocolate eater. (My favorite is 85% Lindt.) Coming back to the US, Customs makes you fill out a form asking if you have random items... including food. I had to answer yes... as I had 65 king sized bars in my carry on. (No way was I going to chance them getting lost in route!)

    • jdwheeler profile image

      jdwheeler 5 years ago

      Now that I know some background on chocolate, I love it even more! Happy Valentines!

    • sherridan profile image

      sherridan 5 years ago

      Very interesting. Did you watch the chocolate evangelist, Willy Harcourt-Cooze's series? It was fascinating to see how chocolate is great in savoury dishes, too.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 5 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      i love chocolate. stearic acid, a saturated fat found in chocolate, does not raise cholesterol levels compared to other saturated fats. lot of info about chocolate here. well presented lens.

    • CNelson01 profile image

      Chuck Nelson 5 years ago from California

      This is an interesting lens. I hardly ever eat chocolate but my wife loves it so much we call it "vitamin C" around our place.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Whomever was ultimately the first, can you imagine their face as they licked the spoon! o.m.g. - there's a first I would have love to have seen! Very original idea for a lens by the way.

    • Boyd Carter profile image

      Boyd Carter 5 years ago

      Hello Lisa, This is a beautiful and informative lens. I didn't know of the relationship between chocolate syrup and Psycho. lol.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Whoever invented chocolate...God bless them everyone!

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      What an excellent and fun lens, choc-a-block with information and so much more. Blessed.

    • creativeinc lm profile image

      creativeinc lm 6 years ago

      Great lens! The Spaniards brought cacao to the Philippines. We still grow lots till now.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      What would life be without the invention of chocolate? I shudder to think. I am thankful for many conveniences in my life; electricity, running water, tractors so's farmers can grow my food... but the invention of chocolate definitely tops my list of important inventions. Mmmmm, good.