The History of Chocolate: Everyone's Favorite Sweet - Royal Wholesale

The History of Chocolate: Everyone's Favorite Sweet

5 min reading time

Did you know that chocolate has been satisfying cravings for almost 4000 years? If you're like us and can't live without it, then you've probably wondered how it came to be in the first place. You may know that cocoa beans originated in South America's Amazon rainforest, but there's a lot you probably don't know about how our great, great ancestors and beyond used to enjoy this timeless indulgence. For example, everyone's favorite sweet treat wasn't always so sweet. Take a quick trip with us through the history of our beloved chocolate.

If we traveled way back in time to 1900 B.C., we'd see cacao seeds, the main ingredient in chocolate, being consumed throughout Mayan and Aztec civilization in Mexico and Central America. But it looked a lot different than our bite-sized chocolate treats today. Instead, these beans were being ground into a paste that was mixed with water, chili peppers, and other spices to become a frothy, bitter-tasting drink. In fact, for most of its history, chocolate was consumed as a liquid.

Believing that cocoa was 'the Food of the Gods,' Mayans consumed this liquid during religious ceremonies, and eventually the Aztecs started doing the same, while also believing it to be a health elixir and aphrodisiac. They loved cocoa beans so much, that they were convinced they came from a tree in paradise, and even started using them as currency.

Enter Columbus, who upon his trip back to Spain from the New World, brought these mysterious little beans to show King Ferdinand. But due to reasons we may never know, they were overlooked. It took three more trips to the New World for Columbus to finally witness the cocoa beans used as currency among the native populations, but he still didn't quite see the potential value of the little brown beans.

Unfortunately for Columbus (but great for us), about 15 years later, cocoa started catching on among European explorers when a man named Hernan Cortez purchased a slave using cocoa beans as currency. The name Chocolatl was used to identify the cocoa drink, which was a combination of the Mayan word xocoatl and the Aztec word for warm liquid. In the years that followed, Cortez started a cocoa plantation to take advantage of the wealth potential of the little beans. Upon his return to Spain, he presented them to King Charles V, along with a recipe for chocolatl. He made the smart move to incorporate sugar to make for a more enjoyable drink, but then selfishly kept this a secret from the rest of the world for over a century!

In the meantime, the industry continued to flourish and the craft was perfected among Europeans. It wasn't until about 1585 that cocoa was finally shipped in bulk to Spain to be sold on the open market. It unsurprisingly started to transform the trade market and led to new innovations for the economy. Eventually, 200 beans were equivalent to 4 cents.

As soon as Spanish Princess Maria presented Louis XIV of France a gift of chocolate after her betrothal, it became a big hit for Europe's royal class. And in England, Chocolate Houses became all the rage. Chocolate was even considered an exception to fasting restrictions, so holidays were spent enjoying the delicious treat following religious law.

A big shout out to London in 1674, where a popular Coffee House first served chocolate in an edible cake form. Finally, chocolate as we know and love it! This revolutionized the way chocolate was consumed and continued to spur new ways to enjoy it for years to come.

A couple of years later, the new and improved version of chocolate made its way back to the Americas (and Belgium too). But it wasn't until about 20 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed that colonists in the United States of America got their first taste. From here, an entire industry devoted to this delicious treat was born.

American colonists can take credit for the first factory designed for mass chocolate production, but it was the Spanish who took it to the next level with machine-made chocolate to keep up with the high demand. Of course, everyone jumped on board to take advantage of the same efficiency.

In 1830, we can thank a British chocolate maker named J.S. Fry & Sons, for introducing chocolate that truly resembled the chocolate we see today. His solid chocolates took shape in the chocolate bars that still fly off the shelves almost 200 years later.

Even though they were a little late to the party at first, Belgium established a reputation of elite innovators in the world of chocolate around the 20th century. You know the soft, smooth filling known as Praline? That was all them. But an even more notable contribution to the history of chocolate was Belgian chocolatier, Charles Callebaut's, new methods of storing and transporting liquid chocolate.

And in the 1950’s, one of the latest chocolate inventions was also of Belgian credit: chocolate spread! Thank you, Belgium! Fast forward to today, and all the incredible forms of chocolate we enjoy on a daily basis add up to over $75 billion spent annually worldwide. But Americans really take the cake, with every person consuming an average of 12 pounds per year.

So in conclusion, now that you know the incredible journey that chocolate took to get to where it is today, don't let it make you feel guilty about how easy it is to order as much chocolate as you want from Royal Wholesale Chocolate. We don't know about you, but this story made us hungry, so browse our site to order all of your favorites!

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