Where Did Your Chocolate Come From?

Chocolate is so integrated into today’s culture that it seems MUSHROOM CHOCOLATE BARS like it has always been around. And yet, like everything else, it had a beginning and an evolution into what we know and love as chocolate today. So where did it start? Ironically it started where it is not the leading sweet or candy in the country or continent.

In fact, chocolate did not start as the marvelously sweet and smooth bars of goodness we eat nowadays. Instead it started as a spicy, bitter drink among the Mayans of ancient South America reserved for their society’s elite class. They ground up the cocoa beans from the Theobroma cacao tree to create an unsweetened cocoa drink.

Next came a series of events that eventually brought the cocoa bean to the attention of Europe. The Aztecs, who traded with the Mayans, integrated the cocoa in their culture. First Christopher Columbus, then Hernando Cortez both came exploring and conquering. Each brought back samples of this new drink. Cortez, however, was the one who managed to hold the attention of Spain with his cocoa beans and recipes for preparing chocolate.

The Spanish took out the spicy chiles that the South Americans put in and replaced it with sugar to make it more palatable. From Spain this new chocolate was taken to Italy then spread out to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The Germans loved it so much that it became habitual to have a cup of chocolate before going to bed.

Dr. Joseph Fry created a machine that would grind the cocoa beans so that it could be produced on a larger scale. Then, over fifty years later, his grandson Francis Fry discovers a way to make the chocolate edible, not just a drink. This was the first chocolate bar to be made but still not the chocolate with know today.

The first chocolate bar had not been refined into the smooth creaminess we know and love. Instead it was grainy and rough because the powder it started as, combined with butter, needed heat in order to iron out that grainy texture.

Rodolphe Lindt was just the person to come up with that solution. Lindt invented the “conching” machine to heat the chocolate and refined it into a smoother consistency. Milton Hershey made chocolate even more popular when he began mass-producing affordable chocolate bars for the public. Those first Hershey chocolate bars were only 5 cents!

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