The history of chocolate is as interesting as the tastes that cocoa can produce when crafted by experts into fine chocolates.
Chocolate is, indeed, a magical substance for mankind.
It represents so many things to so many people: sweet memories, love, childhood, gratitude, happiness and, above all, pleasure.
It is a joy to give and a joy to receive and each of us has an intensely personal history with this sweetest of substances.
But what is the true history of chocolate?
The gods, it is said, have been watching over the cocoa tree – “cahuaquahiti” – for thousands of years.
the rainforests of the world, from the Amazon to Africa, from the Antilles islands to the islands of the Indian Ocean, the cocoa tree has grown slowly through the centuries, its beans filling day by day with the aromatic, intoxicating essences that make the world’s best chocolate.
Central American Civilizations and Cocoa
Cocoa trees originated in prehistoric Central America. The ancient civilizations of the region began to explore the plant’s potential as a basis for food, long before Europeans arrived.
The Mayans were the first people to cultivate the cocoa tree with any success. And even used, local variety, crillo cocoa beans as currency. But there are few surviving records from that era.
The history of the Aztecs is far better understood and it is with the discovery of their civilization that the cocoa tree is ushered into the light of European history.
Europeans Discover “Xocoti”
Christopher Columbus was the first to bring chocolate to Europe. But the bitter concoction- “xocoti”- was not well received.
In 1525, after tasting Emperor Montezuma’s favorite drink, conquistador Hernando Cortes sent a shipment of cocoa beans to his emperor, Charles V. And once it was mixed with cane sugar and vanilla, cocoa found favor with the Spanish aristocracy.
In France, it was not until the 1615 wedding of Louis XIII to Anne of Austria (the daughter of Phillip II of Spain) that the French court discovered the strange brew known for its revitalizing and aphrodisiacal properties.
Later, Louis XIV bestowed the exclusive privilege of making and selling the singular confection known as “chocolat” on David Chaillou, the owner of a boutique on the rue de L’Abre-sec in Paris.
In 1778, a Parisian invented the first machine that could grind, mix and compress chocolate.
And, several years later, in 1825, Antoine Brutus Menier built the first mechanized chocolate factory in Noisel-sur-Marne, marking the debut of the modern chocolate works and sweet entrance of chocolate into the lives of every man woman and child in the world.
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