Who invented chocolate? We know it tastes great in a crepe, but just who discovered chocolate? Where and how did it all begin?
The history of chocolate is a fascinating journey that began with
the ancient civilizations of Central America. Read along for more about
how chocolate evolved from the bean, the beverage, and the bar.
~ 1000 B.C: The Olmec people of Central America first cultivated the cocoa tree.
~ 300 AD: The Mayans created a bitter and frothy drink made from the tree’s fruit—cocoa beans. They frequently flavored it with hot chiles.
~600 A.D: Cocoa plantations were established by Mayans and later the Aztecs, who called the drink "xocolatl" and began using the bean as currency.
~1520: Chocolate is formally introduced to Spain by the conquistador Hernan Cortés. Here, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla were first added to counter the bitterness of the brew, which began growing in popularity among Europeans. Cocoa plantations were established throughout colonies across the world.
1657: Chocolate comes to France and England, where chocolate drinking houses were established. Chocolate was extremely expensive, however, and its consumption was largely limited to the aristocracy.
1765: The first chocolate factory was established in America, in Massachusetts by Dr. James Baker and John Hannon.
1828: Dutchman Coenraad Van Houten introduced a hydraulic press to remove the cocoa butter from the chocolate. This process resulted in hard cakes that could be reduced to a fine dust, known as cocoa powder.
1838: Van Houten sold his rights to the process and chocolate machines were acquired by the British companies of Fry and Cadbury. These first companies began a battle to develop and market "eating chocolate," which was made by combining cocoa butter, ground cocoa beans, and sugar.
1849: Bars of this new chocolate were introduced at a trade fair in Birmingham, England, launching a worldwide frenzy for this new sensation.
1875: Milk chocolate was introduced in Switzerland by Daniel Peter (who added powdered milk first created by Dr. Henri Nestlé)
1884: In America, Milton Hershey and Domingo Ghirardelli began producing their own version of chocolate bars as well as chocolate-coated candy.
1929: In Belgium, 14-year old Joseph Drap created the chocolate truffle, which was later sold under the name Godiva.
1941-45: Chocolate bars were provided to American forces in Europe during WWII as a morale-booster, continuing the enduring tradition of sharing chocolate with those we love and appreciate.
As you can see, there wasn't just one person who invented chocolate. In fact, we owe a great debt to a number of innovators who made their mark on the development of chocolate as we know it today.
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