Ok, Let's face it: almost all of us have a weak spot for some sweet indulgence. Whether it's chocolate, ice cream, cookies, cake, or doughnuts, life would be pretty darn boring without a treat from time to time. For many of us, temptation means chocolate, despite the calories. And if it's chocolate you're craving, then nothing but chocolate will do!
Chocolate has a history that goes far back in time. Archaeological records indicate that the Mayans of Central America were consuming cocoa as far back as 600 B.C. or earlier. When CortÚs conquered the Aztecs he was introduced to cocoa by the Emperor. But the cocoa consumed by the Mayans and later the Aztecs was very different from our modern chocolate. Cocoa itself has a bitter taste and the Mayans and Aztecs consumed it as a drink: dried cocoa mixed with water and possibly some chili peppers.
When cocoa reached Europe, in this case Spain, the Spanish began experimenting by mixing cocoa with sugar and vanilla to make it a little sweeter. The result was a hot chocolate type of drink which soon became popular among the upper classes. Chocolate was very expensive since it was an import, hence only the richer people could afford it.
By the first half of the eighteenth century cocoa production had increased and the price had fallen to the point where it became affordable to the general population of Europe and the European colonies in the New World.
Then the invention of new machines made chocolate even more tastier. Those machines machines made it possible to create smoother, creamier chocolate in the form of an edible candy bar.
One of the most important inventions was the cocoa press, created in 1828 by the Dutch chemist Coenraad Van Houten. It squeezed out cocoa butter (leaving the powder we call cocoa) and made cocoa both more consistent and cheaper to produce.
In 1815, Van Houten added alkaline salts to powdered chocolate, which helped it to mix better with water and gave it a darker color and milder flavor.
In 1875, Daniel Peter and Henri NestlÚ teamed up to introduce condensed milk to chocolate. Their smooth, creamy "milk chocolate" rapidly became a popular favourite.
Cacao farming hasn't changed much, but chocolate manufacturing has become a blend of art and science. Thanks to trade and technology, cacao seeds and chocolate are part of a global market economy that includes most countries around the world.
And yes, we all indulge in that big chunk of chocolate from time to time. It simply tastes too good!