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Evolution of Chocolate

Chocolate Bars and Powder

We’d all like to think that chocolate just fell from the skies like nectar from the gods but that’s not so. It did have a little ways to go to be considered sweet to the taste. Here is a little background on the evolution of chocolate.


Chocolate, namely cocoa beans have been used for thousands of years. As early as 250 A.D., ancient civilizations of Mexico and South America used the cocoa bean. It was used as currency.

The trees grew under shade cover on the rainforest floor. Over centuries, natives cultivated the plant and moved it to their villages where each could grow their own. Maybe that’s where the phrase “money growing on trees” came from. Literally, they could grow their own currency. That was one importance of the bean.

Secondly, the cocoa bean was used as a drink. The beans were fermented, roasted and then ground into a paste. Mixed with water, spices and sometimes cornmeal, the drink was quite popular. The commoner got to drink it during celebrations, but the chocolate drink, called xocoatl was reserved mostly for the upper echelons of society – the Emperor (of course), soldiers and priests.

Because the drink contained almost 100% cocoa solids, the effects that we have discovered today were quite prominent back then. The drink increases stamina, endurance, mood and was used as an aphrodisiac by Montezuma.

European Enlightenment

The civilizations of this region enjoyed hundreds of years of good fortune with the cocoa bean, hidden from the outside world. It wasn’t until the 16th century when European explorers discovered the region that cocoa and chocolate was introduced to the rest of the world.

The European explorers found the chocolate drink quite bitter. They did, however, notice the magnificent effects that the food had on the natives and their culture. They were allowed to carry beans back to Europe. They used their sweeteners like honey to add a more flavorful taste to the drink. When sugar was imported to Spain and other European countries, they used that to flavor their chocolate drinks, in search of the perfect taste.

The drink took off in Europe. It was the newest thing and caught the eye of royalty and the priesthood alike.

The Europeans had to tinker with their newfound creation so they began to manufacture it themselves. They developed the first press to remove the cocoa butter from the paste and leave them with powder. The powder was mixed with other liquids to create a better drink. They also found that by adding in some of the cocoa butter they could create a molded bar from the cocoa beans – bar chocolate.

This was less than 200 years ago. Now, we reap the fruits of their ingenuity. Since then, chocolate has enjoyed a rich and tasty place in the world of confections.

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