What does a fermented drink from Honduras made in 1400 BC, the chocolate in the cookies you ate today for a treat, hot chocolate powder, and my favorite, M & M’s have in common? They are all made from the same plant, the cacao plant. As I am we are getting closer to the Easter Holiday where we will all be chowing down on chocolate, I thought it might be good to learn a little bit about the history of chocolate. I googled “history of chocolate” and an article from the Smithsonian was one of the top choices. The article was titled, “A Brief History of Chocolate”. It was a very interesting read, which I will summarize for you; you will be able to find a link to the article at the end of this post.
My favorite part of the article was a quote from Alexander Leaf, who the article calls a self-described “Chocolate Educator”. He says, ” I often call chocolate the best known food that nobody knows anything about.” This caught my attention as I thought I was a decent chocolate connoisseur, but after reading the article I have come to agree with him. Here are a few facts about chocolate that I found interesting from the article:
* The plant that chocolate is made out of is the cacao plant
* The first use of this plant was to use the sweet pulp from the cacao and turn that into a fermented beverage
* It is unknown when chocolate actually became “chocolate” like we now know as chocolate
* Cacao beans had been used as a currency in the past. The article said that one bean could be traded for a tamale and that an hundred beans could be used to purchase a turkey hen in Latin America
* Cocoa refers to chocolate in the powder form
* Aztec sacrifice victims were given chocolate to help encourage them to dance before they were killed
* This is not from the article but thought it was interesting…70% of all Easter candy that is purchased is Chocolate. This statistic came from http://www.statisticbrain.com/easter-statistics/
All other information that I used regarding this post can be found in the aforementioned article at this link… http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/a-brief-history-of-chocolate-21860917/?no-ist
Now as we get closer to Easter, I would like you all to ponder about chocolate a littler deeper. You are consuming something that people used to use as currency, as part of a sacrifice, as part of a fermented beverage, but most importantly you are consuming something that we really have no clear idea of when someone turned the cacao plant into chocolate. But whomever it was and whenever it was, is say Thank You, because I love chocolate and could not live with out it!!!