The story of chocolate, as far back as we know it, begins with the discovery of America. Until 1492, the Old World knew nothing at all about the delicious and stimulating flavor that was to become the favorite of millions.

The Court of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella got its first look at the principal ingredient of chocolate when Columbus returned in triumph from America and laid before the Spanish throne a treasure trove of many strange and wonderful things. Click here

Growing the Cocoa Bean  |   Varieties of Cacao  |   Crop for Shipment  |   How to Make Cocoa Powder
Bean to Chocolate  |   What is Conching?  |   Automation Does the Job  |   A Sanitary Atmosphere
Eating Chocolates/strong>  |   Growing Chocolates/strong>  |   Chocolates just for kids

Automation Does the Job

Besides the equipment already described, the industry employs a number of fascinating machines to do the work of shaping and packaging chocolate into the familiar forms that we see every day on store counters. Some of the shaping machines perform at amazing speeds, squirting out jets of chocolate that solidify into special shapes at a rate of several hundred a minute. Other machines do a complete job of wrapping and packaging at speeds that human hands would find impossible.

Separate from the chocolate industry but of interest nonetheless, is the enrober-a machine employed by many candy manufactures in the creation of assorted chocolates.

The enrober receives lines of assorted centers (nuts, nougats, fruit or whatever desired filling) and showers them with a waterfall of liquid chocolate. This generally covers and surrounds each center with a blanket of chocolate.

Yet other confectionery machines create a hallow-molded shell of chocolate which is then filled with a soft or liquid center before the bottom is sealed with chocolate.

The mechanized nature of the entire chocolate-making process contributes greatly to the industry's high standards of hygiene and sanitation. To keep check on these standards, chocolate factories constantly run quality tests, which show whether the process is proceeding within the strict limitations designed for each product.

These tests cover an amazing range-there are tests for the viscosity of chocolate, for the cocoa butter content, for acidity, for the fineness of a product and, of course, tests for purity and taste of the desired finished product.

All chocolate manufacturers, it is important to note, must meet the standards as set forth in the rules and regulations of The Food and Drug Administration.

These govern manufacturing formulas, even to the extent of specifying the minimum content of the chocolate liquor and milk used. They also impose strict rules regarding the flavorings and other ingredients that may be used.

Reasons for Secrecy

Where methods of manufacturing are concerned; however, manufacturers have a completely free hand and have developed individual variations from the "pattern." Each manufacturer seeks to protect his own methods by conducting certain operations under an atmosphere of secrecy. Modern technology, in this respect, is reminiscent of the day of the Spanish monopoly.

Today's "secrets," unlike those of old, include many small but important details which center around key manufacturing operations. No chef guards his favorite recipes more zealously than the chocolate manufacturer guards his formulas for blending beans or the time intervals he gives to his conching.

Time intervals, temperatures and proportions of ingredients are three critical factors that no company wants to divulge.