Loved since prehistoric times
The origin of chocolate
The origins of chocolate can be traced back to the ancient Maya and Aztec civilisations in Central America, who first enjoyed ‘chocolatl’; a much-prized spicy drink made from roasted cocoa beans.
Throughout its history, whether as cocoa or drinking chocolate beverage or confectionery treat, chocolate has been a much sought after food.
Because cocoa beans were valuable, they were given as gifts on occasions such as a child coming of age and at religious ceremonies. Merchants often traded cocoa beans for other commodities such as cloth, jade and ceremonial feathers.
The 40-60 foot tall chocolate tree – Theobroma cacao – has grown wild in tropical Central America since prehistoric times. The chocolate tree probably developed in the headwaters of the Amazon Basin and spread throughout Central America. The latin name Thebroma actually means “food of the gods”.
Nobody knows when humans joined the gods and started to consume chocolate, but archeologists believe that the Olmecs were the first one to pick and use the cocoa beans. The Olmecs is the oldest known civilization of the Americas (1500-400 BC).
Still Loved today
Chocolate during the 20th century
During late 19th and early 20th century Spain , who had been considered the number one chocolate country falls far behind. Switzerland becomes the leading manufacturer of chocolate products and is widely renowned for its outstanding quality and innovative methods. When it comes to chocolate eating, Germany surprisingly takes the lead with the highest consumption per head, followed by the USA , France and the UK .
As we enter the new millennial, the chocolate lovers worldwide together consume more than a million tons of processed chocolate each year. During the 1990’s the interest in high quality chocolate began to grow and more and more people started to read books about chocolate, participate in chocolate tastings and buy expensive pralines at special chocolate shops or chocolate cafes. This chocolate boom shows no signs of cooling of, and is fueled by new scientific research showing how numerous substances abundant in chocolate have a beneficial impact on our health and over all well being. From being shunned as unhealthy and fattening snack, chocolate has today reclaimed is true status as a revitalizing medicine for the body as well as for the mind – a gift from the gods indeed.