Who Invented Chocolate?
A great man once said ,”Chocolate makes everything better”. Indeed it does. The only thing that melts our heart other than a little baby’s laugh is chocolate. Whether we are sad, happy, bored or excited, chocolate is never a no. Any occasion, festival or even a party is incomplete without chocolate. No wonder why chocolate is so popular among people of all ages, but kids, always get the most out of it. Just one bar of chocolate is enough to make a kid feel the happiest, but have you ever wondered how the first bar of chocolate was invented? How was the chocolate first discovered? What makes chocolate so delicious? Or who is the man behind this great invention?
We have all loved chocolate for centuries now, but its history is unknown to a lot of people. Chocolate, as we know today, wasn’t the same back when it was discovered. The Mayans, which is a Central American tribe, were the first one to discover chocolate in 900 A.D. Chocolate was first discovered in the form of cacao beans which grew on the wild cacao tree in the tropical rainforest , where Southern Mexico is now situated. The Mayans tried to make a cacao drink out the cacao beans by roasting and crushing the beans first and then mixing it with water, vanilla, chilly pepper and honey. Initially the drink was bitter, yet drinkable.
Thus ,the word chocolate is derived from the Mayan word ‘Chocol’ ,meaning a hot drink.
In ancient times chocolate was known as ‘food of gods’. Many historians also believe that the roots of chocolate dates back to 1900 B.C ,when cacao beans were gifted to Mesoamericans by Quetzalcoatl or kukulkan, the God of wisdom, who was banished from the circle of Gods for sharing a precious treasure to the mankind. These beans were so precious that were used in a form of currency. The Mayans used cacao beans to pay taxes to the Aztec’s , who invaded Mayans. It wasn’t long until Spaniards came to Mexico and conquered Aztec’s and took cacao beans along with them.
It is later discovered that chocolate was introduced to world by Don Hernan Cortes , who was a fellow explorer of Christopher Columbus. It was said that that Christopher Columbus took cacao beans to Europe in one his expeditions. Soon, Christopher ran out of all his treasure except cacao beans. Don Hernan Cortes realized that these cacao beans were very precious and could be used well in trade. Soon the popularity of chocolate grew and spread all over the Europe. Due to its bitter taste, it was first considered as a cure for various ailments such upset stomach, cough and cold. But sweetening it with sugar, honey or vanilla quickly gave chocolate a pleasant flavour and drinking chocolate became a tradition ,first among the ruling class, then among the common people.
In 1828, a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes Van Houten invented cocoa press which crushed the roasted beans and extracted the cocoa butter from the centre of the bean, creating cocoa powder. In 1847 ,Joseph fry set up a chocolate factory in Britain and invented the first solid bar of chocolate. In 1875 , Daniel Peters invented the first milk chocolate bar by adding powdered milk to the chocolate. The milk chocolate instantly gained fame and was consumed worldwide in the form we know today. The story of invention of chocolate chip cookies is just as interesting. Chocolate chip cookie was invented by chef Ruth Graves Wakefield accidentally while she was making chocolate cookies. She expected the chocolate chips in the cookie to melt, but they didn’t, leading to the invention of chocolate chip cookies. So here’s a little tip kids, the next time you plan to make chocolate cookies, make sure to melt the Choco chips before adding it to the dough.
By 20th century, chocolate was no longer a luxury. It was consumed by millions of people worldwide in large quantities. To meet the growing demands for chocolate, its cultivation had to be expanded on a large scale, which meant cultivation of cocoa was required on a large scale. Today seventy percent of cocoa is cultivated in West-Africa . Presently , the top four chocolate producing countries are U.S.A, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. Brussels, the capital city of Belgium is also called as the ‘Chocolate capital of the world’. Thus, the finest quality of chocolate is produced in Belgium along with Switzerland and Italy. Chocolate is, without a doubt, is everyone’s favourite dessert. One can never get tired of chocolates. Surely, there’ve been several great inventions in the past, but chocolate will always remain our favourite.