Did you know that chocolate was not originally served in bar form? Who invented chocolate? Was it always sweet or was it bitter? Let’s go over the history of this sweet treat before we run to the nearest Wockenfuss Candies – how about a box of truffles for the road?
The first known record of chocolate dates back to 1900 B.C. Anthropologists have found evidence that the pre-Olmec cultures living in present-day Mexico were the first civilizations to cultivate cacao plants. This group took the beans of the plants and fermented, roasted, and ground them into a paste. They would mix them into water with other ingredients such as vanilla, honey, and chili peppers to form a chocolate drink. This drink was enjoyed among the Olmec, Mayans, and Aztecs as a mood enhancer, invigorant, and aphrodisiac. It was also claimed to possess mythical and spiritual qualities. The Mayans reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, and nobles to drink at sacred ceremonies.
As the Aztec Empire began to expand, they could not grow cacao plants in the dry highlands of central Mexico; when they traded with the Mayans, the beans, which were considered extremely valuable, were used for currency. In the 1500s, the Spanish conquistadors returned to Spain bearing chocolate instead of the gold and silver they’d been looking for. Instead of drinking the chocolate bitter as the Mesoamericans did, the Spaniards drank the liquid sweetened with cane sugar and cinnamon.
The Spanish managed to keep chocolate a national secret until 1615 when Anne of Austria, daughter of King Philip III, married the French King Louis XIII. The popularity of chocolate soon spread, creating colonization frenzy as the European nations’ thirst for chocolate grew. The drink remained aristocratic until a Dutch chemist, Coenraad Johannes van Houten, invented a cocoa press in 1828. The press extracted the butter from the roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a dry cake that could be ground into a powder and mixed with other ingredients. This invention made chocolate more accessible to the masses.
A Time of Firsts
The first solid chocolate bar was made of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and sugar. It was invented by J.S. Fry & Sons, a British chocolate company, in 1847. Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching machine in 1879. This machine gave chocolate a velvety texture as well as superior taste and allowed for mass production. Chocolate consumption boomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s when companies like Cadbury, Mars, and Hershey started producing their own sweet treats.
With so much history contained in a sweet little package, who can resist! Today the average American consumes 12 lbs. of chocolate per year. If you’d like to try Wockenfuss’s sweet treats, how about some of our Gourmet Truffles? Or for something more like the original treat made by Coenraad Johannes van Houten’s press, try some of our Breakup Chocolate pieces in milk, dark, and white chocolates.
If you have any questions about our products, please contact us at Wockenfuss Candies: call 1-800-296-4414 or email info@Wockenfusscandies.com. When you’re not savoring our specialties, satisfy your sweet tooth by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest!