A Brief History of Chocolate

A Brief History of Chocolate

If one were to walk into any room with a dozen people and ask how many of them have seen “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” there is a very high chance of more than half of them raising their hands in unison.One of the most common memories from everyone’s childhood is having chocolate on some occasion or the other. It is such a cultural staple of our times that there are people who dedicate their lives to making and molding sculptures out of chocolate. There are countless companies working to make the already much-desired chocolate even more delicious by adding it to different recipes or just adding more flavor into it. From birthdays to weddings to parties, chocolate-based treats keep us company through times both good and bad. However, it is only very recently that we’ve come to know of chocolate, even though it has been around for at least 4 millennia in the Americas.The earliest evidence of chocolate-based beverages comes from Mesoamerica. Chocolate was being cultivated there long before the rest of the world even came to know of the existence of the new world. Many cultures had been growing and using chocolate for a long time before the Spaniards showed up in the 1500’s.  It was only after that that the rest of the world was introduced to chocolate. The chocolate they used is light-years away from what we are familiar with, however, as it was a bitter mixture with no added sugar or butter. It was only after the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs that the beverage came to the old world. Once there, Spanish friars introduced a variant of the mixture to the Spanish court. They added a few extra ingredients, such as honey and sugar to counter the natural bitterness of the mixture.The chocolate that we see in supermarkets today is a byproduct of the same conquest that gave us most of the modern-day Central Americas.  In the earlier eras of human history in the American continent, chocolate was even considered a drug for the locals. It was consumed in large doses or smoked. Chocolate is still smoked to this day and it is also used to exhibit love for someone. Couples buy each other these bars of brown gold as the capitalistic corporate world teaches them that it is one of the highest romantic gestures. In some cultures, it’s still considered a form of currency as illustrated by modern literature such as Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”BullionVaultThere are several kinds of chocolates: milk chocolates, dark chocolates, white chocolates, … The variety is endless and innovative candy manufacturers have enhanced the flavor of chocolate to new heights with variations on the consistency and the bursts of flavors incorporated inside. The healthiest of these is the one called dark chocolate; many nutritionists prescribe it as a healthy alternative for milk chocolate. It’s vegan as well since it has no animal products mixed in with it. The most desired chocolates are the ones produced by companies in Switzerland, Belgium and Italy.

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