The history of chocolate timeline is one of the most discussed topics by historians and archeologists. Chocolate is one of the most loved food items since ancient times.
There are various purposes of chocolate in this modern world. From eating chocolate bars to drinking hot chocolate to using it as a topping on dessert, chocolate has evolved into a food item loved by all ages.
But how was chocolate discovered, what was it used for before its modernization, and how did it become part of every household? In other words, what was the evolution of the production of chocolate? We will answer this question by discussing the history of chocolate timeline.
History of Chocolate: Origins
The history of chocolate timeline begins with Mesoamerican civilization. Mesoamerica is a historical region that includes the regions that are now called Central Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Northern Costa Rica.
The cacao tree is native to Mesoamerica, where historians say chocolate was first introduced. Archeologists have found broken pots and other evidence to prove that the people used to drink fermented chocolate as an alcoholic beverage.
While historians don’t know which civilization actually started consuming chocolate, each dynasty had its own chocolate use.
The Olmec used it as a medicinal drink and religious rituals. In the Mayan Dynasty, cacao seeds were used in ceremonies like feasts, festivals, funerals, and religious traditions. The Maya would try to make chocolate by mixing water, a paste of cocoa seeds, Chile peppers, and cornmeal.
The Aztecs would use cocoa seeds as currency. They would drink chocolate as a cold beverage, which was consumed during ceremonies, feasts, and ration for soldiers.
The cacao trees are native to Central America, Mesoamerica, and South America, where the history of chocolate timeline begins.
The trees bear pear-shaped fruits that grow up to a size of 20 inches after pollination. Inside the fruit, there are many almond-shaped seeds called cocoa beans, and the fruit is called cocoa pods.
Cocoa pods come in varying shades of yellow, green, violet, and red. The cocoa beans are brownish-red in color. The surface of the cocoa pod could be smooth or full of craters.
According to historians, cocoa pods seem to be eaten before the beans due to them being sweet and pulpy, unlike cocoa beans, which appeared to be bitter. Cultivation of Cocoa trees didn’t yield the same result as grown in its native place, so it took a long time for the plant to be domesticated.
Chocolate’s Spread to Other Parts of the World
In the History of chocolate timeline, historians say until the 16th century, the world was unaware of chocolate’s existence, besides the Mesoamerican. But, how did it come into existence? To answer that, we will go through the chocolate timeline of some of the continents.
Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez was the first to encounter chocolate, and after the Spanish colonized the Aztec Empire, they imported chocolate to Spain.
At first, the people of Spain would use chocolate for curing illness due to the bitter taste of chocolate. Soon they figured out that they could counterbalance the bitterness by adding sugar or honey to the paste.
They couldn’t make the same flavor as the people of Mesoamerica would do, by adding chilies and spices, and soon gave up. Now, sweetened chocolate was popular among the Europeans, as the Spaniards shared the recipe all over Europe.
But chocolate could only be afforded and consumed by the elite and wealthy due to the cost of preparing it on a large scale. From the 17th century to the early 19th-century, chocolate was made from manual labor.
After that, horse-driven and water-based engines were used, but that still didn’t cut the production cost, and it took time to grind cocoa beans and make chocolate.
In 1729 the first mechanical cocoa grinder was invented. Patented by Walter Churchman, he used a water engine to grind cocoa beans.
Soon the industrial revolution came in, which brought new inventions to speed up the production of chocolate.
In 1815, Dutch Chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten found a way to make powdered chocolate by mixing alkaline salts with cocoa beans. He made a cocoa press that separated natural fat from roasted cocoa beans. This made the production of chocolate cheaper and consistent.
This natural fat was called cocoa butter, and the powdered chocolate was called Dutch Cocoa. People can mix this powdered chocolate in milk or water. Until now, chocolate was consumed as liquor and beverage.
In 1847, the cocoa press was used by Joseph Fry to make solid chocolate. He made chocolate more solid and moldable by adding back melted cocoa butter. Milk chocolate was invented by Daniel Peter in 1875 when he mixed powdered milk with liquid chocolate.
In 1879, Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching machine, which improves the texture and quality of chocolate. The conching machine gave a smooth and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Eventually, many chocolate houses and factories opened to produce and sell chocolates, but we will come to that later.
Chocolate was also used as ration, given to the military during wars (especially during World War II).
2. North America
While chocolate was widely consumed in Europe, it spread through North America due to European colonies.
According to the history of the chocolate timeline, chocolate arrived at the American shore in 1641. A Spanish ship was brought to Florida.
Chocolate was also provided to the military as a ration during the Revolutionary War. It was also given to soldiers instead of a salary.
While Africa was unknown to the existence of cocoa beans and chocolate. During the Industrial Revolution, European colonies brought the cocoa tree with them
They planted the cocoa trees in Sao Tome and Principe, and the origin of cocoa changed, and the cultivation of cocoa trees was a success in these places. Soon many cocoa plantations were established in parts of the continent.
Soon Africa provided more cocoa beans than the cocoa trees near the Amazon river, and soon Africa takes the leading role in the production of cocoa beans since the start of the 20th-century.
While chocolate was spreading like wildfire all over Europe and America from the 17th century, chocolate only became popular in Asia in the mid-20th century.
This happened due to cultural differences, cultural conservatism, and culinary disparities. Due to this, many Asian countries rejected chocolate.
The people found the chocolate liquor, brought by the colonists, quite bitter, and the people were not used to its texture.
Hence, when chocolate became popular among the masses of Asia during the 20th century, it was due to big chocolate companies like Nestlé, Cadbury, and others trying to bring their products to the Asian markets.
This seemed to work as many advertisements were made in Japan and India to sell chocolates, and soon people started to enjoy eating chocolates.
Chocolate Houses and Factories
Throughout the history of chocolate timeline, we get to know how chocolate got popular. Going a little backward in the history of the chocolate timeline, we will get to know how big chocolate companies like Nestlé, Cadbury, and Hershey’s and chocolate houses came into existence.
The chocolate house was where men from upper-class families would use to have a cup of hot chocolate. They drank chocolate while discussing family and personal life, politics, and other things. The first-ever chocolate house opened in 1657 in England.
According to the history of chocolate timeline, Joseph Fry made solidified and moldable chocolate in 1847, and the conching machine helped with the texture. All this helped lower the production cost, and soon, chocolate was available to the general public.
Eventually, many people used the recipe and added other ingredients to make their signature flavor.
Now going back to 1875, when David Peter made Milk chocolate. He was helped by Henri Nestlé, who helped him with the mixing of milk powder to liquid chocolate. They soon partnered up and opened a chocolate factory under the company Nestlé.
John Cadbury used to sell tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. Then in 1824, he founded the chocolate company Cadbury. They used to sell cocoa and hot chocolate, so they started producing it on a commercial scale. Soon they started producing solid chocolate after the production method was discovered.
Hershey’s was established by Milton S. Hershey in Pennsylvania in 1980. At first, he had a Caramel company in Lancaster, but after seeing a German chocolate processing machine in 1893, he decided to go into the chocolate business.
These three and many more chocolate houses and factories brought chocolate to quite many places, and soon chocolate was a world-wide loved food item.
History of Chocolate Timeline
In the modern times of our history of chocolate timeline, chocolate is widely used as a food item, beverage, and flavoring.
Countries like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, and Cameroon produce 70 percent of the world’s cocoa beans.
Powdered cocoa is still used as a flavoring for various products like cakes, desserts, and syrups. White chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate are also consumed through multiple means.
From our history of the chocolate timeline, we can see how chocolate went from being the Gods’ food to a beverage only to be afforded by the Elite to a worldwide favorite food item of the general masses.
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