Chocolate is an amazing treat that can be enjoyed in so many ways that it’s hard to count. In fact, chocolate is so liked that an average American consumes around 12 whole pounds of chocolate every year. You may love chocolate, but did you know these interesting facts about one of your favourite foods ?
Fact #1 History of Chocolate
Image Credits: Brain Hagiwara Studio, Inc./the food passionates/corbis
Many historians have estimated that chocolate has been around for about 2000 years, but recent research suggests that it may be even older. A vessel found at an Olmec archaeological site in Mexico, dates chocolate’s preparation by pre-Olmec peoples as early as 1750 BC.
The residues and the kind of vessel in which they were found indicate the initial use of cacao was not simply as a beverage, but the white pulp around the cacao beans was likely used as a source of fermentable sugars for an alcoholic drink.
The ancient Maya are believed to be the first people to regularly grow cacao trees in their backyard and drink chocolate.They used cocao seeds to make a frothy bitter drink. The Mayans liked their chocolate warm while the Aztecs drank it cold and seasoned it with a broad variety of additives like chile pepper, allspice, vanilla, and honey.
The word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to the bitter, spicy drink the Aztecs made from cacao beans.
The Aztecs got it later, but they had to trade for cacao because they couldn’t grow the trees. As their homes in the Mexican highlands was unsuitable to grow cacao.
When the Aztec empire ruled most of Mesoamerica, chocolate was still widely consumed, and cacao seeds were a form of currency. The Aztecs used a system in which one turkey cost 100 cacao beans and one fresh avocado was worth three beans.
The Aztec emperor Montezuma II drank more than 50 cups of chocolate every day.
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Fact #2 Chocolate in Europe
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Europeans had never heard of the popular drink from the Central American peoples, until the 16th century. The first European to taste chocolate was the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés. The Aztec king Montezuma invited him for dinner and offered frothy drink as a part of the after-dinner routine.
Christopher Columbus and his son Ferdinand encountered the cacao beans during their journey to America in 1502. Their crew seized a large native canoe that contained cacao beans.
Columbus took the cacao beans with him back to Spain. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, chocolate was imported to Europe. It quickly became a court favorite and the Spanish added sugar, as well as honey, to counteract the natural bitterness.
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Fact #3 Modern Era of Chocolate
Image Credits: Jacob J. Gayer/National Geographic Society
In 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate by removing about half the natural fat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor, pulverizing what remained and treating the mixture with alkaline salts to cut the bitter taste. His product became known as “Dutch cocoa,” and it soon led to the creation of solid chocolate.
By the 17th century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout the Europe and believed to have nutritious, medicinal and even aphrodisiac benefits. But it remained largely a privilege of the rich.
Dutch chemist, Coenraad van Houten reduced the bitterness of chocolate by adding alkaline salts to it. In 1828, he found a way to make powdered chocolate by removing about half the natural fat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor. This made chocolate both cheaper to produce and more consistent in quality. His product became known as “Dutch cocoa,” and it soon led to the creation of solid chocolate.
Fact #4 First Chocolate Bar
In 1874, Joseph Fry created the first chocolate bar. He could make a moldable chocolate paste by adding melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa. After this he started his chocolate factory, Fry’s of Bristol. In 1875 Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate by mixing a powdered milk developed by Henri Nestlé with the liquor.
By 1868, Cadbury was marketing boxes of chocolate candies in England. They manufactured their first Ester Egg in 1875 by making a pure cocoa butter that could easily be moulded into smooth shapes.
In 1879, the texture and taste of chocolate was further improved when Rudolphe Lindt invented the conching machine.
In 1893, Milton S. Hershey began Hershey’s chocolates with chocolate-coated caramels.
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Fact #5 Types of Chocolate
There are many different types of chocolates.
Milk chocolates are sweet chocolates that also contains milk powder or condensed milk.
White chocolate, although similar in texture to that of milk and dark chocolate, does not contain any cocoa solids.
Dark chocolate is produced by adding fat and sugar to the cacao mixture. The U.S. FDA calls this “sweet chocolate”, and requires a 15% concentration of chocolate liquor. European rules specify a minimum of 35% cocoa solids.
Unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate liquor, also known as bitter or baking chocolate. It contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions.
Fact #6 Chocolate is a Candy?
False. Chocolate is not actually a candy. Chocolate qualifies as whole processed food. It contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and other beneficial ingredients with proven health benefits. Its connotation with being a treat though has earned it a shelf in the candy aisle at almost all stores.
Fact #7 Chocolate Can Be Healthy
Chocolate can be healthy, it contains a variety of beneficial ingredients. Antioxidants and flavonoids are two of the most beneficial ingredients. However, these ingredients are outweighed by the fact that most commercial chocolate producers add fatty substances and sugar that can outweigh the benefits. Also, don’t heat your chocolate as it could lose up to 90% of its beneficial elements.
Eating dark chocolate every day reduces the risk of heart disease by one-third.
The bioactive compounds in cocoa may improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure
When it Comes to Coughs, Chocolate Is More Effective than Codeine.
Chocolate has an anti-bacterial effect on the mouth and protects against tooth decay.
Fact #8 Helps You Lose Weight
That’s right, in moderation chocolate can actually help you lose weight. Chocolate acts as an appetite suppressant, in other words, chocolate helps make you feel full faster than you normally would.
It also helps in keeping a check on your cravings. Certain flavanols in chocolate help lower blood sugar and also decrease body fat.
If employing chocolate in your weight loss plan make sure it is in small quantities and comes without any fatty or sugary additives.
Chocolate milk could be a post-workout recovery drink. It provides carbohydrate replenishment to your muscles.
Fact #9 Memory Recall
Studies conducted by scientists have shown ties between chocolate and memory recall. The antioxidants that make chocolate healthy also give it the power to help you remember things.
Cocoa or dark chocolate may improve brain function by increasing blood flow. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.
If you want to do better on that next test bring a little bit of chocolate with you and save it for answering the hardest questions.
Fact #10 White Chocolate Is Not Chocolate
White chocolate has chocolate in its name but technically its not a chocolate. White chocolate does not contain any cocoa solids which is what makes a chocolate what it is.
Instead, white chocolate uses cocoa butter as the main ingredient. It contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but no cocoa solids.
Fact #11 The Taste of Chocolate
The taste of chocolate can vary dramatically. You can add a variety of different ingredients in it to add even more flavours. Chocolate contains over 600 different flavor compounds way more than most other foods and drinks.
Red wine, which is often known to be able to have a wide variety of flavours only has about 200 different flavour compounds.
Fact #12 Theobromine
You have probably heard that dogs can’t have chocolate, this is true because of theobromine which is poisonous to dogs. Did you know that very high quantity of theobromine can also be harmful and lethal to humans?
Large qunatity of theobromine can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea followed by irregular heartbeat, seizures, internal bleeding, heart attack, and all this can lead to death.
The dose at which 50% of people will expire from theobromine intake is around 1000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. That means that an average ten-year-old child would need to consume 1,900 Hersey’s milk chocolate miniature candies.
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Fact #13 Chocolate for Assassination
Luxury items were often stocked in the War Cabinet rooms in Britain, including chocolate. The Nazis heard of this and decided that it would be the best way to get rid of Churchill.
They coated small explosives with chocolate and wrapped them in real chocolate wrappers. MI5 caught on though and stopped the plan, just like something out of a James Bond movie.
Fact #14 Fake Blood
Fake blood has been made with chocolate for both homemade horror houses and professional movie sets. To make fake blood with chocolate include chocolate syrup, water, corn syrup, various food colouring, flour, and corn starch.
The movie Psycho used a similar mixture with chocolate for the bloody shower scene.
Fact #15 Bank Robbery
In 2007 a thief in Antwerp, Belgium purportedly used chocolate to make his bank robbery easier. When entering the bank he gave the security guards chocolate which made them lower their guard. The thief made away with about $28 million dollars.
Some More Interesting and Delicious Facts about Chocolates
- More than two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa, and Côte d’Ivoire alone produces 33% of the world’s supply
- The chocolate industry is worth approximately $110 billion per year.
- Americans eat almost half of the world’s yearly supply of chocolate.
- It takes approximately 400 cacao beans to make one pound (450 gr.) of chocolate.
- Some cacao trees are more than 200 years old, but most give marketable cocoa beans for only the first 25 years.
- The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which triggers relaxation.
- The inventor of the Chocolate Chip Cookie sold the idea to Nestle Toll House in return for a lifetime supply of chocolate
- M&Ms were created in 1941 as a means for soldiers to enjoy chocolate without it melting.
- Chocolate magnate Milton Hershey canceled his reservations for the Titanic due to last minute business matters
- In 2013, Belgium issued a limited edition of chocolate flavored stamps
- There’s a pill that makes farts smell like chocolate.
- German chocolate cake isn’t German. It’s named for Sam German, an American baker.
- Nutella was invented during WW2, when an Italian pastry maker mixed hazelnuts into chocolate to extend his cocoa supply.
- Chocolate is the only edible substance to melt around 93° F, just below human body temperature. That’s why chocolate melts in your mouth
- Belgium produces an amazing 220,000 tons of chocolate per year. Brussels International Airport is one of the world’s largest selling points of chocolate
- Kit Kat is produced worldwide by Nestlé, except in the U.S. where their competitor, Hershey makes them
- The scientific name for the tree that chocolate comes from, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”
- It takes a almost a full year for a cocoa tree to produce enough pods to make 10 standard-sized Hershey bars.
- Hershey’s Kisses got their name from the kissing sound the machine that deposits the chocolate on the conveyor belt makes.
- Hershey’s makes 70 million Kisses every day, and enough annually to make a 300,000-mile-long line of Kisses.
- In 1947 hundreds of Canadian kids went on strike and boycotted chocolate after the price of a chocolate bar jumped from 5 to 8 cents.
- Napoleon loved chocolates and demanded that wine and chocolate be made available to him and his senior advisers even during intense military campaigns.
- Benjamin Franklin sold chocolate in his print shop in Philadelphia.
- The most valuable chocolate bar in the world is a 100-year-old Cadbury’s chocolate bar that was brought along on Captain Robert Scott’s first Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic. It sold for $687 at auction in 2001.