Everybody loves chocolate. But how much do we actually know about chocolate. Here are 40 fun facts about chocolate you probably never heard off. Take a look at banana facts and candy canes facts for more interesting food facts.
Who Made The First Chocolate?
Over the centuries, there have been many different answers to the question, “How is chocolate made?” The first use of chocolate is credited with the Olmecs in Mesopotamia in 1500 B.C. They discovered the cacao bean and tried to use it to make a chocolate drink. Later, the Aztecs and Mayans made their own drinks from the cacao bean. These were thought to be very bitter compared to the chocolate we know today.
How Is Chocolate Made?
The Cacao bean grows on a cacao tree, and the first step in making chocolate is the harvesting of the beans. After they have been picked from the trees, these cacao beans, which have a melon-like shape, are opened up. The pulp and seeds are taken out and set in the ground or left in piles on the ground to ferment for around ten days. During this process, the beans will start to turn darker and the shells will become hard. You will start to be able to smell the cocoa developing in each bean. The beans are then dried, cleaned, bagged, and shipped to where they will be used to make chocolate.
When the beans arrive at a chocolate factory, they are roasted. This increases the chocolate flavor and lowers the acidity of the beans. They are cracked open and blown into a fan which separates the outer shell from the bean itself. These are called nibs. The nibs are ground into a liquid that is called chocolate liquor. The liquor can be poured into molds and made into unsweetened dark chocolate, or other ingredients can be added to make it into sweet or milk chocolate.
The fatty part of the nibs that is removed in the grinding is called cocoa butter. The final chocolate product will be made from the chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, vanilla, milk and sugar. There are variations in these ingredients that make different brands of chocolate taste unique. White chocolate is made with cocoa butter but without the chocolate liquor, so technically it is not chocolate.
Although cocoa butter starts to give chocolate a smooth quality, it is a process called conching that makes chocolate have an incredibly rich texture and taste. Conching is just a further grinding that uses small metal beads to break up even the tiniest chocolate particles. The longer chocolate spends in the conching process, the smoother it will be. The more expensive, very rich chocolates that have a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth feel have spent the most time being conched.
The final element in making chocolate is tempering. This is a heating process that makes liquid chocolate. It’s done to ensure that all the chocolate crystals will be the same size when the chocolate is hardened into its final form. Once all the chocolate crystals are dissolved into liquid form, the chocolate will be poured into molds to harden into the various types that are bought by consumers.
When you look at “How is chocolate made?,” you can see that there are many different processes involved, but it all ends with a delicious final product that is the number one flavor in America and world.
Fun Chocolate Facts
- One of the most important chocolate facts is that cocoa and chocolate are produced from the leaves of the cacao tree.
- The cacao tree originated in South America.
- The United States produces more chocolate than any other country.
- The Olmecs were the first to use chocolate in 1500-400 B.C.
- Cocoa was first introduced in Europe in the 1600s.
- In World War II, Hershey Chocolate Bars were distributed in soldiers’ rations.
- Walter Baker Chocolate was the first company to make a baking chocolate. They were located in Massachusetts.
- The Aztecs used cacao beans as currency.
- The Swiss eat more chocolate than any other country. England is second.
- Cocoa is harvested twice a year.
- Chocolate chips were offered by Nestle in 1939.
- Among the interesting chocolate facts: people spend $7 billion every year on chocolate.
- 1.5 billion pounds of milk is used every year in America to produce chocolate.
- On average, every American eats ten to twelve pounds of chocolate each year.
- Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses were introduced in 1907. Today Hershey’s produces over twenty million kisses every day.
- Cadbury’s, an English company, made the first chocolate bar in the world in 1842.
- The anti-oxidants in chocolate lower your risk of heart disease.
- Chocolate facts tell us how milk chocolate was created. A Swiss man named Daniel Peter came up with milk chocolate after he had experimented for eight years. He sold the formula to a neighbor, Henri Nestle, and Nestle Chocolate was born.
- Chocolate is low in caffeine. It only has as much caffeine as one cup of decaffeinated coffee.
- The shower scene in Hitchcock’s move, Psycho, used chocolate syrup for blood.
- On average, the Swiss eat twenty-one pounds of chocolate every day.
- In 1849, an Italian named Domonbro Ghirardelli began to produce chocolate in the United States. It was at the time of the U.S. Gold Rush. The original Ghirardello factory is still there in San Francisco.
- London saw its very first chocolate shop in 1657. However, chocolate was so expensive that only the very wealthy could afford it.
- In 1929, Conrad J. van Houten invented a hydraulic press for cocoa beans, and made cocoa powder for the first time.
- When it was first created in the 1930s, the Three Musketeers Bar had portions of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. The recipe used today was created in the decade of the forties.
- Milton Hershey was only nineteen years old when he established his chocolate company in Pennsylvania.
- In North America, more people crave chocolate than any other food.
- White chocolate contains no chocolate.
- If your dog eats chocolate, he can become very ill, and in some cases it results in death. Many people claim that their dog has eaten chocolate and they have never had a problem with it.
- The theobromine in chocolate can be toxic to dogs.
- Eating chocolates in moderate amounts has health benefits. The anti-oxidants help prevent cancer and heart disease. It also can aid in treating depression.
- Chocolate provides us with energy. Scientists have discovered that one chocolate chip can give us enough energy to walk 150 feet.
- Americans eat 2.8 billion pounds of candy every year. Approximately 50-percent of this is chocolate.
- Forty-percent of all the almonds produced in the world go into chocolate products.
- The record weight of a chocolate bar is 5000 pounds.
- The very first recipe for chocolate brownies appeared in 1896 in the Fanny Farmer cookbook.
- Richard Cadbury can be credited with making the first heart-shaped Valentines Day box for chocolates. That was in 1861. It is said to have had a picture of his young daughter holding a kitten.
- Today, thirty-six million of these heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold every year in the United States alone on Valentine’s Day.
- Each year, there are 60 million chocolate Easter bunnies made.
- Cocoa butter’s melting point is only a bit above the human body temperature, which is why chocolate can melt in your hands, as well as your mouth.
First Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies in 1937. Ruth and her husband, Kenneth, ran a bed and breakfast named the Toll House Inn that was located near Whitman, Massachusetts. Ruth was trying to make an all-chocolate butter cookie and she used a bar of semi-sweet chocolate that had been given to her by Andrew Nestle. Unexpectedly, the chocolate did not entirely melt into the dough and tiny chunks of chocolate remained.
However, the guests at the Toll House Inn like the cookies so much that Ruth Wakefield continued to make them. She named them Chocolate Crunch Cookies. She published her recipe in many newspapers and magazines, and the popularity of the cookie skyrocketed across the country. Wakefield also made a deal with Nestle that they could include the recipe on their semi-sweet bars as long as they supplied her with as many bars as she needed for the inn. Nestle introduced the Chocolate Morsels they sell today in 1939. Toll House chocolate chip cookies are still made near the original Toll House Inn property.