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From Bean to Bar The BITTER-SWEET HISTORY of Chocolate

 It all started in LATIN AMERICA

Chocolate's 4,000-year old history began in ancient Mesoamerica, present day Mexico. Evidence suggests that at that time, the people of the region had learned to prepare the beans of the native cacao tree.

The beans were grounded and mixed with cornmeal and chilli peppers to create a drink. The drink had a bitter taste unlike the sweet chocolate of today.

Chocolate

A HEAVENLY FOOD GIFTED BY GOD

Reportedly, the Mesoamericans believed that taco was a heavenly food gifted to humans by a feathered serpent God, known to the Mayans as the Kukulkan and to the Aztecs as Quetzalcoatl.


The enchanting tales of THE CACAO BEANS

According to legends, the Aztecs drank their chocolate during rituals, used it as medicine, as a refreshing beverage on royal feasts and even as currency!


It's even believed that the Aztec soldiers were rewarded with cacao upon returning from war.

REACHES SPAIN

No one knows for sure when chocolate cake to Spain however legend has it that explorer Hernán Cortés brought chocolate to his homeland in the 14th Century.


Cortés was believed to have discovered chocolate during an expedition to America in search of gold and riches. He instead found a cup of cocoa given to him by the Aztec emperor.


AN ARISTOCRATIC DELICACY

At first its bitter taste made chocolate suitable as a medicinal drink but sweetening it with sugar, vanilla or honey quickly made chocolate a popular delicacy.


It is said that chocolate soon reached aristocratic households and quickly became popular among the rich and the wealthy.


AN ARISTOCRATIC DELICACY

At first its bitter taste made chocolate suitable as a medicinal drink but sweetening it with sugar, vanilla or honey quickly made chocolate a popular delicacy.


It is said that chocolate soon reached aristocratic households and quickly became popular among the rich and the wealthy.


A CHOCOLATE REVOLUTION

The world of chocolate changed forever in 1828 with the introduction of the cocoa press by Coenraad van Houten of Amsterdam


Houten's device could separate cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans. This left a powder that could be mixed into a drinkable solution or recombined with the cocoa butter to make the solid chocolate we know today.


MILK CHOCOLATE IS BORN

It wasn't until 1847 when England's J. S. Fry & Sons, Ltd. better known as Fry's, made the first mass-produced chocolate bar.


In 1875, Swiss chocolatier, Daniel Peter added powdered milk to the mix, thus inventing milk chocolate. The proliferation of flavoured, solid, and coated chocolate foods rapidly followed.


INCREASED DEMAND meant more production Abidjan

By the 20th Century, chocolate was no longer an elite luxury but had become a treat for the public. More demand meant more cultivation. Now instead of African slaves being shifted to South America, cocoa production itself shifted to West Africa.


As of 2015, Côte d'Ivoire in West Africa provided 2/5th of the world's cocoa


THE UGLY SIDE

Along with the growth of the industry, there also have been horrific abuses of human rights.

According to a 2015 U.S. Labor Department report, more than 2 mn children were engaged in dangerous labor in cocoa-growing regions.


Today, chocolate companies around the world are making efforts to reduce child and indentured labour by partnering with African nations.


The indispensable CHOCOLATE INDUSTRY

Today chocolate has established itself as an intrinsic part of the modern world due to its colonial past and strong advertising.


In 2019, Mars Wrigley, USA made $18,000mn in net sales making it the highest grossing chocolate company in the world!

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