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CHOCOLATE...A Well History!

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CHOCOLATE...A Well History!

Post by Naseem Abbas Malik on Tue May 22, 2012 5:27 am

EARLY HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
The
earliest record of chocolate was over fifteen hundred years ago in the
Central American rain forests, where the tropical mix of high rain fall
combined with high year round temperatures and humidity provide the
ideal climate for cultivation of the plant from which chocolate is
derived, the Cacao Tree.

The Cacao Tree was worshipped by the
Mayan civilisation of Central America and Southern Mexico, who believed
it to be of divine origin, Cacao is actually a Mayan word meaning "God
Food" hence the tree's modern generic Latin name 'Theobrama Cacao'
meaning ‘Food of the Gods’. Cacao was corrupted into the more familiar
'Cocoa' by the early European explorers. The Maya brewed a spicy,
bitter sweet drink by roasting and pounding the seeds of the Cacao tree
(cocoa beans) with maize and Capsicum (Chilli) peppers and letting the
mixture ferment. This drink was reserved for use in ceremonies as well
as for drinking by the wealthy and religious elite, they also ate a
Cacao porridge.

The Aztecs of central Mexico also prized the
beans, but because the Aztec's lived further north in more arid regions
at higher altitudes, where the climate was not suitable for cultivation
of the tree, they had to acquire the beans through trade and/or the
spoils of war. The Aztecs prized the beans so highly they used them as
currency - 100 beans bought a Turkey or a slave - and tribute or Taxes
were paid in cocoa beans to Aztec emperors. The Aztecs, like the Mayans,
also enjoyed Cacao as a beverage fermented from the raw beans, which
again featured prominently in ritual and as a luxury available only to
the very wealthy. The Aztecs called this drink Xocolatl, the Spanish
conquistadors found this almost impossible to pronounce and so corrupted
it to the easier 'Chocolat', the English further changed this to
Chocolate.

The Aztec's regarded chocolate as an aphrodisiac and
their Emperor, Montezuma reputedly drank it fifty times a day from a
golden goblet and is quoted as saying of Xocolatl: "The divine drink,
which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious
drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food"

In
fact, the Aztec's prized Xocolatl well above Gold and Silver so much so,
that when Montezuma was defeated by Cortez in 1519 and the victorious
'conquistadors' searched his palace for the Aztec treasury expecting to
find Gold & Silver, all they found were huge quantities of cocoa
beans. The Aztec Treasury consisted, not of precious metals, but Cocoa
Beans.



CHOCOLATE IN EUROPE
Xocolatl!
or Chocolat or Chocolate as it became known, was brought to Europe by
Cortez, by this time the conquistadors had learned to make the drink
more palatable to European tastes by mixing the ground roasted beans
with sugar and vanilla (a practice still continued today), thus
offsetting the spicy bitterness of the brew the Aztec's drank.

The
first chocolate factories opened in Spain, where the dried fermented
beans brought back from the new world by the Spanish treasure fleets
were roasted and ground, and by the early 17th century chocolate powder -
from which the European version of the drink was made - was being
exported to other parts of Europe. The Spanish kept the source of the
drink - the beans - a secret for many years, so successfully in fact,
that when English buccaneers boarded what they thought was a Spanish
'Treasure Galleon' in 1579, only to find it loaded with what appeared to
be 'dried sheep's droppings', they burned the whole ship in
frustration. If only they had known, chocolate was so expensive at that
time, that it was worth it's weight in Silver (if not Gold), Chocolate
was Treasure Indeed!

Within a few years, the Cocoa beverage made
from the powder produced in Spain had become popular throughout Europe,
in the Spanish Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany and - in about 1520 -
it arrived in England.

The first Chocolate House in England
opened in London in 1657 followed rapidly by many others. Like the
already well established coffee houses, they were used as clubs where
the wealthy and business community met to smoke a clay pipe of tobacco,
conduct business and socialise over a cup of chocolate.

BACK TO THE AMERICA'S

Event's
went full circle when English colonists carried chocolate (and coffee)
with them to England's colonies in North America. Destined to become the
United States of America and Canada, they are now the worlds largest
consumers - by far - of both Chocolate and Coffee, consuming over half
of the words total production of chocolate alone.



THE QUAKERS

The
Quakers were, and still are, a pacifist religious sect, an offshoot of
the Puritans of English Civil War and Pilgrim Fathers fame and a history
of chocolate would not be complete without mentioning their part in it.
Some of the most famous names in chocolate were Quakers, who for
centuries held a virtual monopoly of chocolate making in the English
speaking world - Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree are probably the best known.

It's
probably before the time of the English civil war between Parliament
and King Charles 1st, that the Quaker's, who evolved from the Puritans,
first began their historic association with Chocolate. Because of their
pacifist religion, they were prohibited from many normal business
activities, so as an industrious people with a strong belief in the work
ethic (like the puritans), they involved themselves in food related
businesses and did very well. Baking was a common occupation for them
because bread was regarded as the biblical " Staff Of Life", and Bakers
in England were the first to add chocolate to cakes so it would be a
natural progression for them to start making pure chocolate. They were
also heavily involved in breakfast cereals but that's another story.

What
is certain is that the Fry, Rowntree and Cadbury families in England
among others, began chocolate making and in fact Joseph Fry of Fry &
Sons (founded 1728 in Bristol, England) is credited with producing and
selling the worlds first chocolate bar. Fry's have now all but
disappeared (taken over by Cadbury) and Rowntree have merged Swiss
company Nestle, to form the largest chocolate manufacturer in the world.
Cadbury have stayed with chocolate production and are now, if not quite
the largest, probably one of the best known Chocolate makers in the
world.

From their earliest beginnings in business the Quakers
were noted for their enlightened treatment of their employees, providing
not just employment but everything needed for workers to better
themselves such as good housing etc. In fact, Cadbury built a large town
for their employees around their factory near Birmingham, England.
Complete with libraries, schools, shops and Churches etc, they called it
Bourneville. So next time you see Cadbury's chocolate with the name
Bournville on it you will know where it comes from and what the name
relates to.



CHOCOLATE AS WE KNOW IT
The
first mention of chocolate being eaten in solid form is when bakers in
England began adding cocoa powder to cakes in the mid 1600's. Then in
1828 a Dutch chemist, Johannes Van Houten, invented a method of
extracting the bitter tasting fat or "cocoa butter" from the roasted
ground beans, his aim was to make the drink smoother and more palatable,
however he unknowingly paved the way for solid chocolate as we know it.

Chocolate
as we know it today first appeared in 1847 when Fry & Sons of
Bristol, England - mixed Sugar with Cocoa Powder and Cocoa Butter (made
by the Van Houten process) to produce the first solid chocolate bar
then, in 1875 a Swiss manufacturer, Daniel Peters, found a way to
combine (some would say improve, some would say ruin) cocoa powder and
cocoa butter with sugar and dried milk powder to produce the first milk
chocolate.
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