Who Invented Chocolate? The Sweet History of Chocolate
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.
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)
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
PREHEAT oven to 375Â° 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.
- Inventor of the Week - Ruth Wakefield
Ruth Graves Wakefield invented one of the world's favorite treats: the chocolate chip cookie.
- NESTLE VeryBestBaking.com - Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Official Nestle site with the Toll House cookie recipe
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.
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
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
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?
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.
More About the History of Chocolate - Links to other sites that explore the world of chocolate history
- Exploratorium Magazine - Chocolate Invades Europe
Exploratorium offers a brief history of chocolate
- About.com - The History of Chocolate: Culture of the Cocoa Bean
The history of chocolate and cocoa beans.
- Cadbury.co.uk - History Of Chocolate: First Chocolate For Eating
Cadbury discusses the development of solid chocolate as we know it today
- ABout.com - The History of Chocolate Chip Cookies: Ruth Wakefield
Who invented chocolate chip cookies? Learn more about Ruth Wakefield, the inventor of these delicious desserts.
- fieldmuseum.org - All About Chocolate: History of Chocolate
Follow the history of chocolate from the discovery of the cacao bean 2000 years ago to the development of everyone's favorite sweet.
- The Hershey Company - History of Hershey
Discover how one man turned chocolate into North America's largest candy company.
- 08 Chocolate History
Chocolate History Timeline
- CuisineNet Digest: A Chocolate Timeline
A Chocolate Timeline
(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.)