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Great and Important Things to Know About Chocolate: History and Beyond

Updated on January 23, 2012

"The chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power. It is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits." - Baron Justus von Liebig

Chocolate Indulgence!
Chocolate Indulgence! | Source

As the explicitness of a few of its many wonders, chocolate has been regarded as the "perfect food". Worshiped among the human populace, it had enticed millions of taste buds, still does, and will always do. Knowing the gratification a single piece of wholesome chocolate could bring, many people still do not know the origin of such pleasurable taste. Before euphoria takes over, let me give you a delectable tour to the chocolate "paradise" first.

"I often call chocolate as the best-known food that nobody knows anything about."- Alexandra Leaf, a self-described "chocolate educator" who runs a business called The Chocolate Tours of New York City

Have any of you wondered where all the chocolate, worldwide, came from? You grew up around them, so as your parents, the elderly, and their forefathers. Taking off a wrapper or a box unravels its discrete history; something which had long been gone but is delicately preserved in every inch of chocolate goodness. It was so long ago, a time when humanity sets off a journey of discovery through civilization, chocolate had played an important role in establishing economy and trade. Chocolate has served for many purposes. And the rest were documented history.

A Mayan Chief Protecting His Pot of Chocolate.
A Mayan Chief Protecting His Pot of Chocolate. | Source

THE CHOCOLATE DRINK BEGINNING

The origin of chocolate dates back more than two thousand years ago, when there was an abundance of cacao trees in the South American region. The beans coming from these trees were used primarily as currency in purchase of goods and sustenance of trade. Hence, they are considered as valuable trading commodities. By then, certain amounts of cacao beans could be used to procure several goods or supplies. As a matter of fact, according to the recovered 16th century-old Aztec document, one hundred (100) cacao beans can be given in exchange of a quality turkey hen.

Chocolate is said to be anything that is derived or made from cacao beans. The sweet and solid chocolate that is known today had been existent only during the 1850's. Before such period, chocolate were uncompounded with sweeteners (yes, they were bitter) and were just basically made as a beverage. Liquid chocolate then is considered to be something more. It had been instrumental to the flourishing culture of early people. In fact, the two major primitive settlers in South America (as far as chocolate history is concerned), namely the Mayans and Aztecs, had believed that chocolate possesses mystic and divine properties. Such belief had elevated it in a position of fame as a major component in any of their sacred spiritual rituals and traditions.

Bet you won't imagine yourself drinking those bitter cups of chocolate, would you? So does the early Europeans! According to an old story, a certain Spanish explorer named Hernando Cortes, had discovered the primitive bitter chocolate by way of Montezuma's (an Aztec king) hospitality. The king had mistaken Cortes as a deity which prompted him to invite the Spanish explorer, together with his men, to a lavish banquet. The merry-making included a variety of festive delicacies from which chocolate beverages were included. When first served upon these Spanish conquerors, the bitter chocolate drink did not jibe with the type of gustatory discretion they had. They even described it as something more like "a drink suited for pigs"! However, when the liquid chocolate drink was mixed with cane sugar and honey, it tasted great. Later on, it became a hit all over Spain.

When the wonderful taste of chocolate (after adding on some sweetening agents, of course) was made known to the Spaniards, they kept the delectable secret on hold for a while. They held stewardship to the cacao beans at hand and were utilized pecuniarily, though they had dedicated more time in discovering other options for the chocolate that comes from them. The Spaniards considered and utilized chocolate as food and medicine. It was used to alleviate digestive problems, pain, and fever. Soon, chocolate had gone entirely widespread in outstretches of Europe.

Yummy!
Yummy! | Source

THE SOLID CHOCOLATE DELIGHT

From the previous liquid form, people had not known any other kind of chocolate composition until 1828 when a certain Dutch chemist devised a specific manner of deriving chocolate powder from its liquid form by removing its natural fat, called the cacao butter. The remnants of such procedure were then pulverized while the rest of the mixture was treated with alkaline salt compounds in order to eliminate the bitter taste inherent within the previous form of chocolate mixture. However, it was only in 1847 when someone named Josephy Fry came to discover a possibility to create a chocolate paste that can be molded by adding more melted cacao butter (rather than hot water) to the Dutch's chocolate mix which is composed of pulverized cacao or powder. Thus, the first solid chocolate bar was made, laying the earliest foundation in creating the modern chocolate bars that we know of today.

THE CHOCOLATE PROPELLERS

It was in 1875 when two men named Daniel Peter and Henry Nestle had created another important part of the chocolate history as they added condensed milk to the solid chocolate mixture. After which, the milk chocolate was created. Another account features a Swiss man named Rudolph Lindt, the one who had invented the ‘conch’. It was a machine that's made to produce chocolate in smooth consistency. And finally by 1907, the first batch of chocolate kisses was known. Thanks to Milton Hershey for building a factory which made all those treats possible.

When mixing milk with choco started...
When mixing milk with choco started... | Source

"I never met a chocolate I didn't like." - Counselor Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Opening a box of chocolate is like opening up a Christmas present – every time is a delightful surprise! However, as you gobble a handful of those chocolate treats and sometimes let a pinch of them melt on your finger (So you can lick them again!), do you picture how they are actually made? Did you dare think how a crafty endeavor is done to create each piece of these priceless gastronomic treasures? The answer is right here. Continue reading on and let the creation begin!

Inside these cacao fruits are beans where all chocolates come from.
Inside these cacao fruits are beans where all chocolates come from. | Source

THE CHOCOLATE GENESIS

As the cacao beans arrive in the chocolate factory, they are sifted so as to eliminate unwanted or foreign materials that go along with them - dirt, rocks, or sharp objects. Next, the beans are weighed and sorted. The cacao beans are then roasted in enormous ovens for one to two hours with a temperature between 210 to 290 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat applied to the beans darkens them and brings out their utmost flavor and aroma. Then after, the shells of the cacao beans are cracked and blown off leaving just the crushed inner beans called the “nib”. They are the edible yet bitter parts of the cacao beans that will soon be made into chocolate. These cacao nibs, which were spared previously, are then crushed and ground to form a rich and thick paste known as the chocolate liquor. Given such a name, this chocolate paste does not include alcoholic properties though. Several ingredients are incorporated to the chocolate liquor to eliminate its bitter taste. Cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla are generally used for such incorporation. Adding them up to the said paste could also enhance its consistency. Next, the mixture is ran through a "conching" machine (such name was coined because of its resemblance to a conch shell) to further enhance and refine its texture, as how chocolate of today are known for. Further through the conching phase, additional cacao butter and soy lecithin can be added on to produce a more silky-smooth texture. This phase can last from several hours up to six days depending on the quality of chocolate the manufacturer wishes to produce. Finally, the chocolate is stirred, cooled, and heated back again - all these repeatedly done several times - to give the chocolate its usual smooth and glossy facade.

"Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world's perfect food." - Michael Levine, nutrition researcher

Can't get enough of chocolate!
Can't get enough of chocolate! | Source

While most types of chocolates are attributed to high caloric content and weight gain, still there are many depicted health benefits derived from these sumptuous treats. Recent studies show that dark chocolates were proven to help combat hypertension. Because of its antioxidant property, it can also offer protection against cancers. The antioxidants present in dark chocolates act by taking up free radicals, which are highly unstable molecules that cause heart diseases, cancers, and other ailments. Other health benefits of dark chocolate include an anti-depressant effect (contains serotonin), the ability to give feelings of pleasure (promotes endorphin production), and a stimulating effect (from its caffeine and theobromine substances) that gives someone a burst of energy and alertness. Hmm, not bad!

Don't binge on chocolate just yet!
Don't binge on chocolate just yet! | Source

THE CHOCOLATE CAREFUL CATCH

Unfortunately, along with the proven health benefits of chocolate comes the careful reiteration that dark chocolates are the only ones that were proven healthy and beneficial. In terms of antioxidant efficiency, milk chocolate is a definite 'out' in the list because its milk composition is said to interfere with the absorption of chocolate's innate antioxidant properties. As a word of caution for those who might now be running out of their houses and planning to binge on dark chocolates - STOP! Always remember that everything taken beyond moderation is bad to anyone's health. The above mentioned studies were conducted to participants with some controlled variables. Meaning, it's not always applicable to everybody. In case you want to incorporate a daily dose of your chocolate goodness in keeping yourself fit and healthy, be sure to consult your physician, nutritionist, and dietician FIRST in order to keep a balanced and moderated regimen.

"Don't wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. Chocolate isn't like premarital sex. It will not make you pregnant. And it always feels good." - Lora Brody, Growing Up on the Chocolate Diet

So better relish that piece of chocolate you have in your stash. Better yet, enjoy even life's smallest pleasures along with it. And you'll be surprised how exciting it could be, just as how thrilling it is to open a box of chocolate - you'll never know what you're gonna get.

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    • RVDaniels profile image

      RVDaniels 5 years ago from Athens, GA

      80% cocoa is the best! It is true what they say, it is even better than sex, (IMHO). Good hub.

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      i love chocolates! it's a stress reliever! :)

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      We Love chocolate too. Mayan Cacao, the best from those centuries...actually the word is originated from them, I think. Heard so many women craving for it on those days...an instinct that relates to survival and sweet deeds.

      LORD

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Wow, good to hear that. It always feels great to know that a fellow hubber shares the same interest. :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Enjoyed reading about the history of chocolate. Great job! I love dark chocolate. A delicious thanks to you! voted Up, useful, interesting and awesome.

      vocalcoach~

    • rLcasaLme profile image

      rLcasaLme 5 years ago from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

      Well documented and as usual, very interesting and useful. I never knew of these things; never really got curious of it. I guess I just wanna eat it rather than be bothered by it. =)

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Thank you for stopping by this hub vocal coach! I guess no one will ever get tired of dealing with chocolates. :)

      You're right rLcasaLme, chocolates are too delicious to bother where it came from. Lol. Thank you for checking out this choco hub. :)

    • Rock_nj profile image

      John Coviello 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Very detailed and interesting historical information about one of my favorite foods (chocolate)! Nicely written!

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Thank you very much Rock_nj for reading this hub! It was a delight researching and collating facts about one of the best foods in the entire world!

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 5 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      when i was a kid we had several cacao trees on our yard and i learned from my grandmother how to make a homemade chocolate drink from the cacao seeds which is freshly roasted, ground and cooked into a chocolate drink.

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      That sounds awesome midnightbliss! Chocolate drink coming directly from roasted and ground cacao seeds are just great! You reminded me of the cacao powder balls (they were sort of solidified) my grandmother used to bring home from her trip to our hometown at Cagayan Valley.

    • amberld profile image

      Amber Dahnke 5 years ago from New Glarus, WI

      very interesting!

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Thank you very much for reading the choco hub. And thanks for sharing your equally sumptuous chocolate recipe! :)

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      There's nothing better than dark chocolates and mint tea when I'm writing my hubs :) Voting this one up and useful!

    • ChilliWilly profile image

      ChilliWilly 5 years ago from Kaunas, Lithuania

      Oh this is so tasty hub ;D Thanks for sharing this information with us!

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Thank you kerlynb! Glad you liked reading this hub. I've always believed that chocolate is better than coffee. :)

      Thank you ChilliWilly, I enjoyed writing this hub as much as I enjoyed eating chocolate. :)

    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 5 years ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      For people who do not know, hypertension is high blood pressure. I have a hub on foods that lower high blood pressure that includes chocolate. I bet that if they did a study they would find that singing or listeining to nice singing lowers high blood pressure. In America 40% 0f the people over age 40 have hypertension.

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Wow, thanks for the info! Am on my way to reading that hub. :) Thanks for dropping by Chuck!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Nagustuhan ko namang ang hub mo dahil ang favorito kong dessert ay tsokolate. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Salamat alocsin! Am glad to know that you liked it.

      Have a great day! :)

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Dear Tina ~ I learned something new. No wonder I like dark chocolate best, the milk interferes with the antioxidant benefits! Blessings, Debby

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK

      Very informative. Chocolate is the Perfect food.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Very Interesting and Delicious Hub! As a kid, I used to be the chocoalcoholic and now just as u said in the last of your hub, i eat a little once in a while!

      Happy New Year to u!

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Hi Debby Bruck! Thank you for stopping by this hub. I learned as much when I was doing my research for this hub. :)

      Lady E, thank you for reading. Glad to know that you consider this hub as informative. For most people, chocolate is (INDEED) a perrfeeect foood! :)

      Happy New Year ishwaryaa22! Thanks for reading. A lot of us here grew up eating virtually any chocolate that we could get. It's good to hear that you get to enjoy eating some chocolate once in a while. :)

    • DanielNeff profile image

      DanielNeff 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Wonderfully informative Hub. Due to my desire to avoid sugar (cancer survivor), when I make hot chocolate, I use honey instead of sugar. I also add chili powder (chipotle for that smoky flavor is my favorite for hot chocolate). It is delicious.

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Thanks for taking the time to read Daniel! And thank you for the wonderful tip you shared. I tried putting honey to my hot choco drink one time and it tasted so good! I am now fond of using honey in place of sugar. :)

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

      I love chocolate...especially milk chocolate. Not as many health benefits as dark but maybe emotional benefits? LOL

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      All chocolate have emotional benefits. And don't worry, I love eating milk chocolate myself Ms. Sinea. I think we just have to take things in moderation. :) Thank you very much for reading this hub. I really appreciate it. :D

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 5 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      I love dark chocolate. Cadbury's Bournville Chocolate is just delicious. and it's very dark and rich. Yummy! Loved this hub! Now I'm hungry! :)

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Hahaha... Thank you for reading Cassy! Am happy that you like it. I love everything Cadbury! Too bad I am not allowed to eat chocolate anymore...

      Thank you for dropping by my dear cheeky girl. It made my day! :)

    • accofranco profile image

      accofranco 5 years ago from L Island

      Lolz...i love chocolates, but i am always scared of the aftermaths...lol...that's the only reason i try to ignore it at times, but i learnt some new things here...nice hub, keep them coming!

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Me too... I kind of avoid eating chocolate, especially during my gigs. Chocolate makes you produce more mucous which may prevent you from singing your best during performances.

      But you have to admit accofranco, chocolate is just irresistible! Hahaha!

    • accofranco profile image

      accofranco 5 years ago from L Island

      Yeah...it's really irresistible but you know, self-control is also quite important in our daily life endeavor...it's not only on chocos....but in many other things in life, not excluding...xex...lolz...nice hub though.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

      I don't think I've ever known anyone who doesn't like chocolate! It's a universally popular food indeed. This was such a great read. Both informative and entertaining. Rated up :)

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Thank you very much for reading Om. Am glad you find my choco hub useful and amusing. You are right. We can say that everyone (as in literally) likes chocolate. :D

    • profile image

      bill warren 5 years ago

      I live in the philippines I just purchased some local choclate balls from a small store in san juan batangas and i would love to lurn how to make some dark chocolate from them any ideas on how to get started.

    • thesingernurse profile image
      Author

      thesingernurse 5 years ago from Rizal, Philippines

      Hi Bill! You can always google your search and you'd be surprised on how much information you can get not only about making dark chocolates but also, other luscious choco treats!

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read my hub. Good luck to your cooking! :)

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