If 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:
- Chocolate was initially consumed as a rather bitter tasting beverage rather than the sweet, delectable treat we all love.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.