A question about chocolate! Just what I?ve always wanted to answer :)
Here we go:
1500 BCE to 400 BCE
While some scholars think the Mayan (250-900 CE) or the Aztec (14th
cent. CE) cultures domesticated the cacao tree, today many think the
Olmec culture may be to thank. ?Linguistic examinations of the words
cacao and chocolate yield traces of languages spoken by the Olmec.?
(?A Chocolate Timeline,? CuisineNet,
250 to 900 CE
Cacao beans were used in Mesoamerica as money, but artifacts from the
Maya civilization may indicate that the eating of chocolate was a high
delicacy. In two of the four surviving Mayan books cacao is mention
often. Maya nobility was sometimes entombed with pottery bearing the
hieroglyph for cacao, as well as images showing the process of its
preparation. Tests done on these pots indicate they may once have
contained chocolate drinks.
Chocolate drinks were popular among the upper-crust of the Aztec
community . Typically, chocolate was drunk after a great feast, from a
cup made of a calabash gourd. Like the Mayans, the Aztecs added
special flavorings to their chocolate, including chiles, vanilla,
allspice, and honey. Aztec soldiers consumed cacao wafers, thought to
give them strength during battle.
?An Aztec document containing a list of price equivalents designated
the value of a tomato as one cacao bean, while an avocado was worth
three, and a ?good turkey hen? was worth 100 ?full? or 120 ?shrunken?
cacao beans.? (?A Chocolate Timeline,? CuisineNet,
When Hernando Cortés helped defeat the Aztecs, he sent shiploads of
Aztec stuff to King Charles V in Spain; scholars are unsure whether or
not one of these ships contained cacao.
The first documented used of chocolate in Europe was 1544, when a
delegation of Dominican friars who?d been living in a Mayan occupied
Guatemala traveled to Spain. They presented gifts of chocolate to
Prince Philip. Afterward, the Spanish and Portuguese began consuming
chocolate?but for nearly a century, the rest of Europe didn?t.
The Spanish are credited with changing the way chocolate was prepared.
?They were put off by the drink's black, murky appearance, and found
its traditional preparations far too bitter and spicy. So, the Spanish
routinely added cane sugar as a sweetener.? They also preferred adding
vanilla to it, as well cinnamon and black pepper. ?Not satisfied with
the Mesoamerican method of foaming their chocolate by pouring it from
one cup into another, they introduced the molinillo, a wooden
whisk-like tool that is twirled between the palms of the hands to mix
the chocolate and create a foam. Molinillos are still commonly found
in Mexico.? (?A Chocolate Timeline,? CuisineNet,
The royal physician to King Philip II of Spain announced chocolate as
an aid to reducing fever.
In 1579, one band of pirates burned a shipload of cacao
beans?-thinking they were sheep droppings.
Whatever standing chocolate may have had in the medical community,
religious leaders were still debating: Was chocolate a beverage or a
food? The question came up because fasting Christians were drinking
chocolate to ease their hunger. Interestingly, most popes (from
Gregory XIII to Benedict XIV) believed that since it was drunk,
chocolate was not a food and therefore was permissible when fasting.
?A merchant from Florence, Francesco d'Antonio Carletti, submitted a
report to Ferdinando I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1606. It
is an account of his findings on a round-the-world exploration of
trade markets, and the manuscript includes a section on chocolate in
the New World. It was not published, however, until the beginning of
the 18th century, so its influence was limited.? (?A Chocolate
1650s and 1660s
By the mid-17th century, chocolate was a known beverage in Britain. In
fact, it arrived around the same time as coffee and tea.
Unfortunately, chocolate was expensive, and coffee and tea both became
affordable?otherwise, the Brits might be better known for their hot
London's first chocolate shop opens. (?Chocolate?s History,? Cocoa
Java, http://cocoajava.com/cocoa_timeline.html )
By the time of Louis XIV, chocolate was popular among the French
royals?-although nobody?s sure how it traveled to France. When the
King married Madame de Maintenon, she tried to convince the King to
forbid the concoction; instead, it gained popularity.
Late 17th Century
In the late 17th century, the chocolatière was born. ?This provided a
special tall pot for serving the beverage. The lid had a hole in the
top into which a molinillo (in French, called a moulinet) was fitted,
rather like a plunger. ?(?A Chocolate Timeline,? CuisineNet,
Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish biologist, gave the chocolate tree its
botanical name: Theobroma cacao. Theobroma, means "food of the gods,"
in Latin; cacao was the native word for the plant.
In the colonies, Dr. James Baker of Massachusetts (along with Irishman
John Hannon) created an early machine-based chocolate manufacturing
business. ?Using an old grist mill, they ground cacao beans into
chocolate liquor and pressed the paste into cakes meant to be made
into drinking chocolate. Their company was originally known as
Hannon's Best Chocolate, until Hannon was lost at sea while on
cacao-buying voyage to the West Indies. It was renamed the Baker
Company and remained in the Baker family until it was bought out by
General Foods in 1927. (?A Chocolate Timeline,? CuisineNet,
?Although the story is said to be apocryphal, the rumors surrounding
the death of Pope Clement XIV in 1774 make use of the fact that
chocolate was considered a particularly good medium for administering
poison. The Pope was believed to have been killed with a cup of
poisoned chocolate by the Jesuits -- known to be chocolate drinkers --
whom he had suppressed the year before. The confectioner who
unknowingly served and shared the tainted beverage also died, and it
was said that the embalmer's arms swelled after touching the body.?
(?A Chocolate Timeline,? CuisineNet,
François Louis Cailler, one of the first Swiss chocolate makers,
opened a chocolate factory near Vevey in 1819.
Dutchman Coenraad Van Houten patented a process for making chocolate
powder This treatment came to be known as "Dutching," and is now
called "Dutch coco."
Prime Minister William Gladstone reduced taxes on cacao beans, making
them more affordable to British manufacturers.
In 1860, the first British Food and Drugs Act was passed?-in part
because it had been discovered that some manufacturers were adding
brick dust to chocolate powder.
?Richard Cadbury created the first known heart-shaped candy box for
Valentine's? Day. (?The Culture of the Cocoa Bean,? About.com,
John Cadbury, a Quaker, opened a grocery shop in Birmingham, England
in 1824, where he roasted and ground cacao beans. Later, he decided to
concentrate his efforts on manufacturing chocolate. By 1854, Cadbury
was the sole purveyor of cocoa and chocolate to Queen Victoria.
Italian Domingo Ghirardelli set off for California in 1849, hoping to
profit from The Gold Rush. But his treasure wasn?t in mining?-it was
in miners. He sold chocolate to miners in the San Francisco area.
?During the 1860s, the Swiss chocolate manufacturer, Daniel Peter,
tried repeatedly to create a chocolate bar flavored with milk, but he
couldn't manage to produce a smooth mixture of milk and chocolate. As
it happened, in 1867, Henri Nestlé (also Swiss) was working on a
concentrated infant food formula, which required that he find a way to
treat milk so that it would not spoil while in storage but could be
quickly reconstituted for use. The result of his efforts, a sweetened
condensed milk, turned out to be perfect for Peter's purposes; the low
water content made it possible to mix it with the chocolate into a bar
that did not spoil. By 1879, Peter and Nestlé had joined to form a
company. Nestlé has become the largest food company in the world. ?(?A
Chocolate Timeline,? CuisineNet,
?When Milton Snavely Hershey, a Mennonite from Pennsylvania Dutch
country, visited the World Colombian Exposition in Chicago, he was
impressed by the chocolate processing machinery there. At the time, he
owned a caramel manufacturing company in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and
he bought the machines so that he could coat his candies with
chocolate. Then he made an investigatory tour of chocolate
manufacturers in Europe and became convinced that he should devote his
entire business to chocolate. He rang in the 20th century by
introducing the milk chocolate Hershey bar and, five years later,
introduced the Hershey's Kiss. By 1906, his enterprise was so vast
that he took over the town of Derry Church, renamed it Hershey,
Pennsylvania, and began to transform it into the chocolate kingdom it
is today. Until 1959, when Castro seized power, he also presided over
"Hershey, Cuba" -- a town he built around his sugar mill. ?(?A
Chocolate Timeline,? CuisineNet,
?The first known published recipe for chocolate brownies appeared in
the Sears and Roebuck Catalogue.? (?The Culture of the Cocoa Bean,?
Jules Sechaud (another Swiss!) invented the chocolate bonbon.
The Italian company Perugina introduced the Baci (or, as we know them
now ?kisses") for Valentines day in 1922. ?These confections are said
to have been created by Luisa Spagnoli, the wife of the cofounder of
the company. Luisa was having an affair with her husband's partner's
son, Giovani Buitoni, and she sent him notes wrapped around the
candies she submitted for his inspection. In a move that could either
be considered romantic (the company's assertion) or cold-hearted (how
does the betrayal of a man by his wife and his business partner become
a selling point?), after her death, Buitoni decided to use this idea
to market one of the candies she had created. So, each bonbon has a
love note tucked under its foil wrapping. ?(?A Chocolate Timeline,?
Joseph Draps named his business after the infamously nude horsewoman: Godiva.
Cella's Confections began manufacturing chocolate-covered cherries at
their factory on West Broadway at Canal Street in New York.
?One day in 1930, Ruth Wakefield ran out of the baking chocolate she
used to make cookies. Since they were popular items at the Toll House
Inn, which she and her husband Kenneth operated in Whitman,
Massachusetts, she decided to improvise. She chopped up a semi-sweet
Nestlé's bar and stirred the chunks into the dough, assuming they
would blend in as the cookies baked. It didn't work that way, but the
resulting cookie became so popular that in 1939 Nestlé began to
manufacture little chunks of chocolate, especially for making "Toll
Milton Hershey suggested the American military partly nourish
themselves with three four-ounce chocolate bars (600 calories each),
and the government conceded.
American consumption of chocolate seems to increase during harder
times. The Chocolate Manufacturers Association of America announced a
more than 8 percent increase in chocolate sales. (?Chocolate
Timeline,? Grace Woman,
Now my mouth is watering! When will they invent a home?delivery system