The Sweet History of Chocolate

Happy chocolate day! Today is the day you can express your love of this sweet treat. America’s favorite flavor is chocolate. Whether it is chocolate candy, ice cream, desserts, or snacks, it’s the perfect day to indulge in this sweet treat.

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In order to celebrate a day dedicated to the sweet treat, it’s fun to look back on its history. Chocolate originated from Latin America. The Olmec are considered to be the first people to use chocolate around 1000 BC, but it is unknown how or if the Olmec actually used chocolate. From about 250 to 900 AD, the Mayans used chocolate quite a bit. Cacao beans were used as a currency and in religious rituals. The rich prepared chocolate as a beverage every once in a while but chocolate was not consumed very often.

The Aztecs kept the chocolate tradition alive by drinking chocolate from 1200 to 1500. In 1519, Cortez and others discovered cacao, but they despised it since it was bitter without sugar, so they continued using it as currency. The Spaniards had kept chocolate to themselves for a while, as it was considered a health food and a medicine. Doctors believed that it could cure fevers, cool the body, improve digestion, and reduce pain and the church said that it was a nutritional supplement while fasting.

It wasn’t long before chocolate made its way to Europe and demand quickly increased. Slaves worked on cacao plantations to help meet this demand. As more chocolate was produced, chocolate prices decreased and more people had access to it. In 1850, Joseph Fry added more cacao butter to cacao powder and sugar to create the first solid chocolate. In 1875, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle added condensed milk to solid chocolate to create a milk chocolate bar. This was just the beginning of the chocolate craze that would spread across the world. The chocolate industry is over $35 billion dollars today!

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Chocolate comes from the cacao bean from cacao trees in tropical rain forests, so it is technically a vegetable! In fact, the cacao bean is one of the most powerful superfoods in the world. Cacao beans are packed with antioxidants, magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc, fiber, omega 6 fatty acids, and vitamin C. These antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Chocolate stimulates endorphin production which gives a feeling of pleasure. It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant, and theobromine/caffeine which act as stimulants.

Here are some ideas to add more chocolate into your day:

  • Breakfast – chocolate chip pancakes, glazed chocolate donuts, chocolate cereal, chocolate muffins, chocolate covered bacon or chocolate crepes
  • Lunch or Dinner – grilled chocolate sandwich (bread, chocolate chips, and  banana), chocolate chicken, or chocolate soup
  • Snacks – chocolate covered fruit, chocolate covered nuts, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate chip bread, or chocolate dipped potato chips
  • Dessert/Treats – cake, cupcakes, cookies, or candy bars
  • Drinks – chocolate milk, hot chocolate, chocolate liquor, or chocolate shakes

Enjoy chocolate day and let us know how you’re celebrating the day!

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