The History of Chocolate

The history of chocolateIf you look around the house, what supply of chocolate do you have? I cannot imagine a home in our Arizona communities that doesn’t have something chocolate. Have you ever heard that chocolate is the food of the gods? I did a little research because I know pretty much everyone loves chocolate, and I found it has been around for well over 4,000 years. I was fascinated by a few of the tidbits I found and wanted to share them with you:

  1. Chocolate was initially consumed as a rather bitter tasting beverage rather than the sweet, delectable treat we all love.
  2. Anthropologist studies support chocolate was produced in present-day Mexico as early as 1900 B.C. by ancient Mesoamericans who cultivated the cacao plants—fermented, roasted and ground them into a paste that was mixed with water, honey, vanilla, peppers and other spices—to brew their frothy “chocolate” drink.
  3. The Mayans were known to have worshiped a “God” of cacao; saving the coveted chocolate to be served at ceremonial rituals to rulers, priests, and warriors. Rumor has it the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, drank gallons of chocolate daily—to increase his libido! History classes introduced us to Hernán Cortés of the 1500s, but I am not sure the pages in our history books had any information about how the Spanish conquistadors elevated chocolate to a symbol of luxury, power and wealth; only the elite could afford to indulge.
  4. The royal marriage of King Phillip III’s daughter to French King Louis XIII in 1615 brought the love of chocolate to France, where European courts and aristocrats were so enthralled with the treat they established plantations around the world to grow both sugar and cacao, ultimately importing African slaves to work them.
  5. The technology gods were with us as early as 1828 when a Dutch chemist invented a cocoa press that changed the processing of the beans to a fine powder able to be mixed and molded into the basis of the delicious product we know today. I am happy to report that this new process gave us a confectionary product available to the common folk.
  6. The rest seems to be, history… as we would frequently say. Such names asFry, Lindt, Cadbury, Mars and Hersey ushered in a chocolate “boom” that has yet to decline.
  7. Statistics note the average American partakes of over 12 pounds of chocolate each year, and, unbelievable, this—more than $75 billion is spent worldwide annually.

Jan Vitale
Independent Insurance Agent
Proudly serving her clients, her community, and her industry for 30+ years

Chocolate Novels

The Chocolate Rose, Chocolate NovelsSomewhere, lying around the house, I know there are going to be some juicy novels you have read, or plan to read. I just wonder how many of them have a heavy inference on chocolate? My curious mind also wandered away from quoting an auto insurance policy—just for a few minutes, mind you—to see if there were really any novels with the word chocolate in the title; novels that were far from cookbooks or diatribes on nutrition. Guess what I found!

  • The Discovery of Chocolate by James Runcie: Follow along as the young Spaniard travels through time and shares and learns about chocolate throughout history, all the while longing for the love he lost.
  • Chocolat by Joanna Harris: Focused on a sumptuous chocolate shop in a small town, this novel pits the sinful delights of chocolate against the will of the church.
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel: Forced to prepare the wedding dinner for the marriage of the man she loves to her sister, this poignant tale will keep you reading and hungry until the end.
  • Chocolate to Die For by JoAnna Carl: Follow along as a chocoholic tries to solve mysteries in this set of two novels.

I was rather tickled when I saw how one mystery writer connects with her readers… did you know Joanne Fluke  (Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder) has baked over 500,000 chocolate chip cookies for fans of her Hannah Swensen mysteries since the series debuted in 2000, not to mention countless pies, cakes, muffins and other sweets?

And some books… they seem to be rather timeless, such as Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War, published March 12, 1974. The story of an exclusive prep academy with a secret society that dominated students through psychological warfare and systematic victimization seems little like a book where you would find much of a focus on chocolate, but it does! A fundraiser means the financial solvency for the school, but one student is forced to refuse to sell the requisite chocolates as an act of public defiance against the school—not a good choice for a young man who recently lost his mother to death and whose support of the school he desperately needs. The standoff turns into an all out war between the entire school and one teenager who isn’t even sure why he’s refusing to go along with the crowd. The book was so well received, a sequel was written in 1985.

Although certainly not the predominant topic in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, chocolate became an important factor in his tale. “For example B.B. (Big Brother) has promised that there will be no reduction of the chocolate ration, but there has been one, so Winston has to rewrite an old article, where the speech of B.B. is reported. At dinner, Winston Smith meets Syme, a philologist, who is working on the 11th edition of The Newspeak Dictionary (see Newspeak – Political System). Syme explains the main character of their work on this dictionary. During their conversation, the telescreen announces that the chocolate ration has been increased to 20 g a week, whereas yesterday it was cut down to 20 g a week.”

I am finding this list far more extensive than I would ever imagine and want to leave you with one final read, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan. According to the book description, it is a heartwarming story of a tiny chocolate shop in Paris. The story opens with the main character, Anna Trent, mixing the finest hand-made chocolate in all of Paris. Many twists and turns of life have Anna returning to England, and then… back again to work in Paris with her love interest, a master chocolatier. A good romance, if that is the genre that calls to you, Anna discovers as much about herself as she does chocolate—and far more than she ever imagined about both!

I would love to hear about some “chocolate novels” you may have read!

Jan Vitale
Independent Insurance Agent
Proudly serving her clients, her community, and her industry for 30+ years

Recipe: Lemon-Herb Chicken

Lemon Herb Chicken, Katie BramlettLemon-Herb Chicken
Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time 20-25 minutes | Serves: 4

Quick Tip: Cook and extra chicken breast and add it to a salad for lunch the next day!


2 pounds organic free-range chicken breast, boneless and skinless

2 tablespoons organic salted butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1-2 organic lemons, juiced

2 tablespoons fresh organic thyme, minced

2 tablespoons fresh organic rosemary, minced

2 tablespoons fresh organic oregano, minced

¼-½ cup organic chicken stock

Optional for serving: Salad or assorted vegetables of choice.


1.) Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breast on both sides with salt, pepper and herbs. Sear in the pan until golden brown on one side, then flip over. 

2.) Add the lemon juice and stock and simmer until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce the liquid down until it becomes your desired consistency. Drizzle on top of the chicken and serve with a salad or assorted vegetables of your choice. 

Attribution:Katie Bramlett