History of Chocolate:
Chocolate Through the Years
During his conquest of Mexico, Cortez found the Aztec Indians
using cocoa beans in the preparation of the royal drink of the
realm, "chocolate", meaning warm liquid. In 1519, Emperor Montezuma,
who reportedly drank 50 or more portions daily, served chocolate
to his Spanish guests in great golden goblets, treating it like
a food for the gods.
For all its regal importance, however, Montezuma's chocolate
was very bitter, and the Spaniards did not find it to their
taste. To make the concoction more agreeable to Europeans, Cortez
and his countrymen conceived of the idea of sweetening it with
While they took chocolate back to Spain, the idea found favor
and the drink underwent several more changes with newly discovered
spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla. Ultimately, someone decided
the drink would taste better if served hot.
The new drink won friends, especially among the Spanish aristocracy.
Spain wisely proceeded to plant cocoa in its overseas colonies,
which gave birth to a very profitable business. Remarkably enough,
the Spanish succeeded in keeping the art of the cocoa industry
a secret from the rest of Europe for nearly a hundred years.
Chocolate Spreads to Europe Spanish monks, who had been consigned
to process the cocoa beans, finally let the secret out. It did
not take long before chocolate was acclaimed throughout Europe
as a delicious, health-giving food. For a while it reigned as
the drink at the fashionable Court of France. Chocolate drinking
spread across the Channel to Great Britain, and in 1657 the
first of many famous English Chocolate Houses appeared.
The hand methods of manufacture used by small shops gave way
in time to the mass production of chocolate. The transition
was hastened by the advent of a perfected steam engine which
mechanized the cocoa grinding process. By 1730, chocolate had
dropped in price from three dollars or more per pound to within
the financial reach of all.
The invention of the cocoa press in 1828 reduced the prices
even further and helped to improve the quality of the beverage
by squeezing out part of the cocoa butter, the fat that occurs
naturally in cocoa beans. From then on, drinking chocolate had
more of the smooth consistency and the pleasing flavor it has
The 19th Century marked two more revolutionary developments
in the history of chocolate. In 1847, an English company introduced
solid "eating chocolate" through the development of fondant
chocolate, a smooth and velvety variety that has almost completely
replaced the old coarse grained chocolate which formerly dominated
the world market. The second development occurred in 1876 in
Vevey, Switzerland, when Daniel Peter devised a way of adding
milk to the chocolate, creating the product we enjoy today known
as milk chocolate.
Chocolate Comes To America
In the United States of America, the production of chocolate
proceeded at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world.
It was in the pre-revolutionary New England 1765, to be exact
that the first chocolate factory was established.
Chocolate has gained so much importance since that time, that
any interruption in its supply would be keenly felt.
During World War II, the U.S. government recognized chocolate's
role in the nourishment and group spirit of the Allied Armed
Forces, so much so that it allocated valuable shipping space
for the importation of cocoa beans.
Many soldiers were thankful for the pocket chocolate bars which
gave them the strength to carry on until more food rations could
be obtained. Today, the U.S. ARmy D-rations include three 4-ounce
chocolate bars. Chocolate has even been taken into space as
part of the diet of U.S. astronauts.