Sunday, October 2, 2016

Facts about Chocolate


Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa once wrote, “There is no metaphysics on earth like chocolate.

Fernando Pessoa

Hershey’s produces over 80 million chocolate Kisses every day.


The English chocolate company Cadbury made the first chocolate bar in the world in 1842.




In the black and white film Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock used Bosco chocolate syrup for blood in the famous shower scene.



Although cacao originated in Central and South America more than 4,000 years ago, now approximately 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in Africa. Cote d’lvoire is the single largest producer of cocoa, providing roughly 40% of the world’s supply.

Chocolate has traditionally been associated with magical, medicinal, and mythical properties. In fact, in Latin, cacao trees are called Theobroma Cacao, or “food of the gods.”

Champagne and sparkling wine are too acidic to go well with dark chocolate. Red wine typically compliments it the best.

Reports predict that the global chocolate market will grow to $98.3 billion in 2016 from $83.2 billion in 2010.

Cacao trees can live to be 200 years old, but they produce marketable cocoa beans for only 25 years.

Cacao Pods on a Tree

Nearly all cacao trees grow within 20 degrees of the equator, and 75% grow within 8 degrees of either side of it. Cacao trees grow in three main regions: West Africa, South and Central America, and Southeast Asia.

Each cacao tree can produce approximately 2,500 beans. It takes a cacao tree four to five years to produce its first beans.

U.S. chocolate manufacturers use about 3.5 million pounds of whole milk every day to make milk chocolate.

It takes approximately 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.

German chocolate cake was named after Sam German, an American, and did not originate in Germany.

German Chocolate Cake

Approximately 70% of the nearly $500 million spent on candy during the week leading up to Easter is for chocolate.

Approximately 71 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold during the week leading up to Easter. Only 48 million pounds of chocolate is sold during Valentine’s week. In contrast, over 90 million pounds of chocolate candy is sold in the last week of October leading up to Halloween.

Chocolate has evolved into such a massive industry that between 40 and 50 million people depend on cacao for their livelihood. Over 3.8 million tons of cacao beans are produced per year.

The first people to harvest chocolate were the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec peoples who lived in southeast Mexico around 1000 B.C. The word “chocolate” is derived from the Mayan word xocolatl, or “bitter water.” 

People who feel depressed eat about 55% more chocolate than their non-depressed peers.

Chocolate became one of the earliest American exports when, in the early sixteenth century, both Columbus and Cortez brought cacao beans back to Spain.

The U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA) is debating a proposal to allow candy makers to substitute vegetable oil for the traditional cacao butter.

Dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial to human health, but milk chocolate, white chocolate, and other varieties are not. For dark chocolate to be beneficial, cacao or chocolate liquor should be the first ingredient listed, not sugar.

Dark Chocolate

Once reserved for the elite, chocolate became available to everyone due to the technological advances of the Industrial Revolution. However, as chocolate became increasingly popular in Europe and America, thousands of people were used as slaves to produce cacao.

Quakers, such as George Cadbury, amassed a great fortune producing drinking chocolate as an alternative to alcohol.

Chocolate Drink

In 1875, Swiss Daniel Peter discovered a way of mixing condensed milk, manufactured by his friend Henri Nestlé, with chocolate to create the first milk chocolate.

In 1879, Swiss Rodolphe Lindt discovered conching, an essential process in refining chocolate. He discovered it by accident when his assistant left a machine running all night.

Researchers have found no link between acne and chocolate. In fact, German researchers suggest that flavonoids in chocolate absorb UV light, which help protect and increase blood flow to the skin, ultimately improving its appearance.

The largest cuckoo clock made of chocolate can be found in Germany.

Research suggests that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. Studies have also found that dark chocolate can improve the ability to see in low-contrast situations (such as poor weather) and promote lower blood pressure, which has positive effects on cholesterol levels, platelet function, and insulin sensitivity.
  
Mayans used chocolate in baptisms and in marriage ceremonies. It was also sometimes used in the place of blood during ceremonies. Mayan emperors were often buried with jars of chocolate by their side.

According to Aztec legend, the god Quetzalcoatl brought cacao to earth but was cast out of heaven for giving it to humans. As he fled, he vowed to return one day as a “fair-skinned bearded man to save the earth.”

Ninety percent of modern cacao is made from a type of cacao called forastero (foreigner). However, before the 1800s, cacao was made from a type of bean called criollo. Even though forastero does not taste as good as criollo, it is easier to grow.

The Catholic Church once associated chocolate with heretical behavior, including blasphemy, extortion, witchcraft, seduction, as well as being an observant Jew.

The spread of chocolate from Spain throughout Europe began in the sixteenth century with the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition. Some Jews who left Spain brought with them Spain’s secrets of processing chocolate.

During World War II, the Germans designed an exploding, chocolate-covered, thin steel bomb designed to blow up seven seconds after a piece was broken off.

Nazis would use chocolate to lure Jews onto cattle cars destined for concentration camps.

The first chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1937 by Ruth Wakefield who ran the “Toll House Inn.” The term “Toll House” is now legally a generic word for chocolate chip cookie. It is the most popular cookie worldwide and is the official cookie of Massachusetts.

Chocolate Chip Cookies


The country whose people eat the most chocolate is Switzerland, with 22 pounds eaten per person each year. Australia and Ireland follow with 20 pounds and 19 pounds per person, respectively. The United States comes in at 11th place, with approximately 12 pounds of chocolate eaten by each person every year.

Chocolate is so important to cacao farmers in Indonesia that they built a 20-foot statue of a pair of hands simply holding a cacao pod.

In Oaxaca, Mexico, healers called curanderos use chocolate to treat several illnesses such as bronchitis. In some regions, children drink chocolate in the morning to ward off scorpion and bee stings.

Over 50% of adults in America prefer chocolate to other flavors.

In 2002, Marshall Field’s in Chicago made the largest box of chocolate. It had 90,090 Frango mint chocolates and weighed a whopping 3,326 pounds.

In a small study at Indiana University, cyclists who drank chocolate milk after a workout had less fatigue and scored higher on endurance tests than those who had a sports drink.
The largest and oldest chocolate company in the U.S. is Hershey’s. Hershey’s produces over one billion pounds of chocolate product annually.

The most expensive chocolate in the world is the “Madeleine” and was created by Fritz Knipschildt of Knipschildt Chocolatier in Connecticut.

There are actually zero cacao solids in white chocolate.

A drawing from the Mayan Madrid Codex shows gods piercing their ears and sprinkling their blood over the cacao harvest, indicating a strong association between blood and cacao in Meso-American tradition. 

In the ancient Mayan civilization, humans were often sacrificed to guarantee a good cacao harvest. First, the prisoner was forced to drink a cup of chocolate, which sometimes was spiked with blood because the Maya believed it would convert the victim’s heart into a cacao pod.

Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year. Over 2,000 chocolate shops are found throughout the country, many located in Brussels where Godiva chocolate originated.
Owing to the nature of cacao butter, chocolate is the only edible substance that melts at around 93° F, just below body temperature. This means that after placing a piece of chocolate on your tongue, it will begin to melt.

Commercial chocolate usually contains such low amounts of cacao solids that it is more likely the sugar that chocolate lovers are addicted to.

The cacao bean naturally contains almost 300 different flavors and 400 separate aromas.

Cacao has been around for millions of years and is probably one of the oldest of nature’s foods.

Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (Montezuma II), the 9th emperor of the Aztecs, was one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the world. He was also known as The Chocolate King. At the height of his power, he had a stash of nearly a billion cacao beans.

Portrait of Montezuma II

Columbus’s son Ferdinand recorded that when the Mayans dropped some cacao beans, “they all stopped to pick it up, as though an eye had fallen.” Columbus, who was searching for a route to India, did not see the potential of the cacao market and mistook them for shriveled almondsI. 

In Mayan civilization, cacao beans were the currency, and counterfeiting cacao beans out of painted clay had become a thriving industry. Goods could be priced in units of cacao: a slave cost 100 beans, the services of a prostitute cost 10 beans, and a turkey cost 20 beans. While the Spanish conquistadors horded gold, the Mesoamericans horded cacao beans. In some parts of Latin America, the beans were used as a currency as late as the 19th century.

The first machine-made chocolate was produced in Barcelona, Spain, in 1780.

When English Buccaneers overran a Spanish ship loaded with cacao beans, they set it on fire, thinking the beans were sheep dung.

Madame du Barry, reputed to be a nymphomaniac, encouraged her lovers to drink chocolate in order to keep up with her.

Portrait of Madam du Barry

Some scholars link the growing popularity of chocolate houses in Europe, such as the Cocoa-Tree Chocolate House on St. James Street in London, with the beginnings of the Enlightenment. That was the drink on the table when 18th-century thinkers started to question long-held verities: the supremacy of the Church, the rights of kings, and potential for improvement in the common man and woman.

One of Louis XV’s many mistresses, Madame de Pompadour, became a famous chocolate addict and used it as a treatment for her sexual dysfunctions. The Marquis de Sade, possibly the world’s first sexologist, was also hooked on chocolate.

Portrait of Madam de Pompadour

According to Italian researchers, women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life than those who do not. They also had higher levels of desire, arousal, and satisfaction from sex.

One chocolate chip can give a person enough energy to walk 150 feet.

Americans eat 2.8 billion pounds of candy each year. Nearly half of this is chocolate.

Approximately 40% of almonds produced in the world are made for chocolate products.

A Hershey’s bar was dug up after 60 years from Admiral Richard Byrd’s cache at the South Pole. Having been frozen all those years, it was still edible.

Chocolate was included in World War II soldier rations. According to army specification, it was designed to taste just “a little better than a boiled potato” so soldiers would not eat it too quickly.

In one year, the world can produce 3 million tons of cacao, less than half the coffee crop.

Chocolate melting in a person’s mouth can cause a more intense and longer-lasting “buzz” than kissing.

Hershey’s Kisses were first produced in 1907 and were shaped like a square. A new machine in 1921 gave them their current shape.

Because it doesn't contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, white chocolate isn't chocolate in the strict sense. But it does contain parts of the cacao bean—mainly cocoa butter.

White Chocolate

The Aztecs loved and valued the cacao bean so highly that they used it as currency during the height of their civilization.

After cacao and chocolate were introduced to Europe, traveling Spanish friars took it to various monasteries, handily spreading it around the continent.

The French leader demanded that wine and chocolate be made available to him and his senior advisers even during intense military campaigns.

Dr. James Baker and John Hannon founded their chocolate company—later called Walter Baker Chocolate in 1765. That’s where the term “Baker's Chocolate” comes from, not to denote chocolate that’s just meant for cooking.


July 7 is also Chocolate Day, a nod to the historical tradition that the day marks when chocolate was first brought to Europe on July 7, 1550, though a number of sources argue that it might have hit the continent’s shores as far back as 1504, thanks to Christopher Columbus. Official day or not, we do know that chocolate first arrived in Europe some time in the 16th century. There's also National Milk Chocolate Day on July 28, International Chocolate Day on September 13, and, of course, National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day on November 7.






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