Chocolate has long been a holiday favorite in the United States, but what exactly is it’s history?
Did you know that chocolate’s original form was a liquid that is a close cousin to today’s hot chocolate? Here is a little run down of where it came from and how it went down in history as the world’s #1 sweet tooth satisfier.
The history of chocolate can be traced all the the way back to the Mesoamerican tribes of the Aztecs and Mayans. These tribes were known to drink a liquid form of chocolate called Xocoatll, made from the beans of the cocoa tree. It is thought that when the Spaniards were conquering Mesoamerica, they learned how to make Xocoatll and brought it back to Spain in 1528. Soon after the Spaniards brought Xocoatll to Europe it quickly spread. Chocolate, as it is spelled today, was spelled in many different ways including: chocolatall, jacolatte, jocolatte, and even chockelet.
England has the honor of introducing the first known edible chocolate in 1847 created by Fry & Son. Edible chocolate was not always a crowd favorite. When it was first produced people seemed to dislike it because of its bitter taste. It was not until 1874 that a swiss chocolatier named Daniel Peter was experimenting with different mixtures to balance out the unpopular bitter flavor. After several experiments Peter’s discovered that milk was the perfect ingredient to balance the bitter taste. Soon after this discovery by Peter’s, edible chocolates popularity grew rapidly. This discovery is arguably what put swiss at the forefront of “chocolatiering” ever since.
Chocolate was brought to Florida by the Spaniards in 1641 where it later made its way up the coast to Boston by 1682. Reports have been found of the British taking major exports of cocoa to supply the production of chocolate. This is said to be the beginning of chocolate production in the United States. By the year 1773 the demand for Chocolate in the US resulted in over 320 tons of cocoa beans being imported to the colonies. Drinking chocolate was not for every class in the United States. It was mostly drank by the wealthy in coffee houses, where they would talk politics and life as we do in today’s coffee establishments. Edible chocolate in the US did not become popular until the 1920’s when it surpassed the popularity of drinking chocolate, and became something for all class.
The average American consumes 9.5lbs of chocolate a year, coming in third in average per capita behind Germany, and Switzerland who sits atop as the number one in consumption.