Its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC. The majority of the Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages, including the Aztecs, who made it into a beverage known as xocolātl [ʃo'kolaːt͡ɬ], a Nahuatl word meaning "bitter water". The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavor.
After fermentation, the beans are dried, then cleaned, and then roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground to cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form. Because this cocoa mass usually is liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor also may be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Unsweetened baking chocolate (bitter chocolate) contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat, and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids.
Cocoa solids contain alkaloids such as theobromine, phenethylamine and caffeine. These have physiological effects on the body and are linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Some research found that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure. The presence of theobromine renders chocolate toxic to some animals, especially dogs and cats.
Chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world. Chocolate chip cookies have become very common, and very popular, in most parts of Europe and North America. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes have become traditional on certain holidays. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, to produce chocolate milk and hot chocolate.
Cocoa mass was used originally in Mesoamerica both as a beverage and as an ingredient in foods. Chocolate played a special role in both Maya and Aztec royal and religious events. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the deities and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies. All of the areas that were conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a "tribute".
The Europeans sweetened and fattened it by adding refined sugar and milk, two ingredients unknown to the Mexicans. By contrast, the Europeans never infused it into their general diet, but have compartmentalized its use to sweets and desserts. In the 19th century, Briton John Cadbury developed an emulsification process to make solid chocolate, creating the modern chocolate bar. Although cocoa is originally from the Americas, today Western Africa produces almost two-thirds of the world's cocoa, with Côte d'Ivoire growing almost half of it.
Chocolate Fun Facts
- Chocolate syrup was used to represent blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's movie, "Psycho" a scene which took 7 days to shoot. ~
- Once upon a time, money did grow on trees. Cocoa beans were used as currency by the Mayan and Aztec civilizations over 1400 years ago. When they had too much money to spend, they brewed the excess into hot chocolate drinks.
- The Swiss consume more chocolate per capita than any other nation on earth. That's 22 pounds each compared to 11 pounds per person in the United States.
- Rumor has it that Napoleon carried chocolate with him on all his military campaigns for a quick energy snack.
- The word "chocolate" comes from the Aztec word "xocolatl", which means "bitter water".
- Seven billion pounds of chocolate and candy are manufactured each year in the United States.
- Chocolate is America's favorite flavor. A recent survey revealed that 52 percent of U.S. adults said they like chocolate best. The second favorite flavor was a tie (at 12 percent each) between berry flavors and vanilla.
- Chocolate manufacturers currently use 40 percent of the world's almonds and 20 percent of the world's peanuts.
- Seventy-one percent of American chocolate eaters prefer milk chocolate.
- The Midwest and the Northeast consume more candy per region than the South, Southwest, West or Mid-Atlantic states.
- The melting point of cocoa butter is just below the human body temperature -- which is why it literally melts in your mouth.
- Older children are significantly more likely to prefer chocolate than younger children (59 percent of 9-11 year-olds prefer chocolate vs. 46 percent of 6-8 year-olds), according to a recent survey.
- Denmark has the highest per capita consumption of candy in the world at 29.5 pounds.
- Americans over 18 years of age consume 65 percent of the candy that's produced each year.
- According to a recent survey conducted by NCA/CMA, candy is the No. 1 choice among children for afternoon snacking.
- Younger children are more likely than older children to prefer hard candies.
- About 65 percent of American candy brands have been around for more than 50 years.
Source: National Confectioners Association/Chocolate Manufacturers Association
Is Chocolate Poisonous to my dog?
YES YES YES!
a chemical in chocolate called theobromine is the source of the problem. Theobromine is similar to caffeine. Theobromine is toxic to a dog when it ingests between 100 and 150 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
Different types of chocolate contain different amounts of theobromine: It would take 20 ounces of milk chocolate to kill a 20-pound dog, but only 2 ounces of baker's chocolate or 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate. It is not that hard for a dog to get into something like an Easter basket full of chocolate eggs and bunnies and gobble up a pound or two of chocolate. If the dog is small, that could be deadly.
It turns out that chocolate poisoning is actually not as unusual as it sounds. For a human being, caffeine is toxic at levels of 150 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (see this page). That's the same as for dogs! Humans generally weigh a lot more than dogs, but small children can get into trouble with caffeine or chocolate if they consume too much of it. Infants are especially vulnerable because they don't eliminate caffeine from the bloodstream nearly as quickly as adults.
So, PLEASE don't feed your pet chocolate!
Did you know that most people, if getting to pick a free piece of candy out of a whole grouping of candy, will choose the Chocolate piece! You bet cha! And that goes for me too! Chocolate is the #1 choice in candy picks.
Chocolate is a favorite for kids and adults alike. Chocolate bars, chocolate fudge, chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate ice cream, chocolate milk, hot chocolate, chocolate sauce... There is something special about this substance -- so special that the average person in the United States eats 10 pounds (4.5 kg) of chocolate every year!
No wonder we're all Choc-ah-holics!
New research is finding that chocolate contains flavonoids, also found in wine and tea and thought to have a role in reducing the risk of heart disease.
TYPES OF CHOCOLATE
Pure cocoa liquor with nothing added
Cocoa bean solids; cocoa liquor pressed to remove
the cocoa butter
Pure cocoa liquor with extra cocoa butter and
Pure cocoa liquor with extra cocoa butter, sugar
and milk solids; more milk than chocolate liquor
Cocoa butter with sugar and milk; no cocoa