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Discovering Chocolate

If you are chocoholic like we are, you may have wondered how chocolate was even discovered? Personally, I think this was the most important discovery in history!!!  Cadbury Australia give a wonderful insight into discovering chocolate on their website, and we’ve summarised it for you below.  So why not sit back with your favourite chocolate treat (bought from Tasty Temptations of course) and have a read. Then you can impress your friends with your new-found knowledge; while you reach for a bit more chocolate to reward yourself for your cleverness.

 

Cocoa trees grew wild in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America for thousands of years. It was used as a chocolate drink and as currency by the Mayan Indians and Aztecs for hundreds of years before Cocoa was brought back to Europe.  It is thought that Christopher Columbus brought the first cocoa beans back to Europe in around 1504, however, they were largely ignored because of all the other exciting treasures he had on board.

Don Hernán Cortés

Spanish Conquistador Don Hernan Cortes, (obviously being a much smarter man) recognised their value, bringing Cocoa Beans back to Spain in 1528. Drinking chocolate reached England in the 1650s, after spreading through other areas of Europe first.

The elite of London society favoured London Chocolate Houses as a meeting place, and a way to enjoy this new luxury. As it became more popular, more countries began growing cocoa, although limited by the Cocoa Trees’ need for specific climatic conditions, and labour intensive culturing, harvesting and preparation. Maybe this start as a delicacy of the wealthy is one reason why we still think of Chocolate as a luxurious treat?

Heavy import duties were reduced, and the Industrial Revolution made transport easier, and with this, the chocolate and cocoa became available to the wider population in 1853. With this wider availability of the products, a number of businesses began manufacturing cocoa and drinking chocolate. Some of the earliest cocoa makers were apothecaries (early chemists), who became interested in cocoa’s supposed medicinal properties. (I think there are still many of us who are convinced of chocolates medicinal properties, particularly it’s ability to make us feel good!). Apothecaries had the equipment and skills needed to heat, measure and blend the ingredients, with those founded by Fry’s of Bristol and Terry’s of York, becoming two well-known names in chocolate production.

Birmingham shop

Other manufacturers became involved with cocoa through the grocery trade, including Rowntree’s of York, branching out from the family grocery business. Possibly the most famous today is  John Cadbury of Birmingham, who originally dealt in tea and coffee in his shop. This was the start of the Cadbury Chocolates Dynasty we are all very grateful for!

Discovering Chocolate all of those years ago has spawned an industry, as well as a much-loved way for all of us to socialise with friends and family, or just to savour a few moments alone.  What was your best Chocolate Discovery?

 

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