The Amazing Story Of Chocolate by Mr Breakfast
Believe it or not, Christopher Columbus discovered cocoa beans in Nicaragua in 1502. The natives were using them as currency. Most people are unaware of Columbus's other discovery because Columbus was all like "who cares" and continued on his journey to find sea routes to India.
The person who commonly gets the credit for discovering chocolate is a Spanish guy named Hernando Valdez. He found Aztec Indians using cocoa beans to make a drink called "chocolatl". Valdez tasted the drink was all like, "Gross! This is bitter." He couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Lucky for all of us though, one day he stirred some sugar into the drink to offset the bitterness and then he was all about, "Damn, I gotta take this tasty stuff back to Spain."
On Valdez's return to Spain, "chocolatl" rapidly became a popular a drink among the aristocracy. Even after the drink spread to France, it was still a rich guy's drink. It wasn't until "chocolatl" found its way to England that regular Joes got to try it. The name was transformed to "chocolate" and soon "chocolate houses" were all the rage.
By the late 1700's, chocolate still hadn't found its solid form, but people started experimenting with it in recipes. It began showing up in cakes and pastries. This is the point in history where most historians believe the first chocolate pancakes and waffles appeared.
Chocolate as we usually identify with it - in solid form - came on the scene in 1928 when a Dutch guy named Conrad van Houten invented a machine that pounded the heck out of cocoa beans. The process was called "Dutching" and the result was cocoa powder. The thing about cocoa powder was that if you mixed it with sugar and butter you'd wind up with a chocolate nugget, lump or bar. An English candy maker named Joseph Fry is credited with making those first "eating chocolates".
From there, the Swiss pretty much took the reins. They added milk and created milk chocolate. They also came up with this thing called "conching" which was like heating the chocolate so it was all melted up and the chocolate was smooth and creamy, instead of all lumpy like the English made it.
We owe a great deal of thanks to these ancient Chocolateers. For without them, chocolate breakfast would be bitter and lumpy. Chocolate rules!
For information on the amazing history of chocolate, try the Exploratorium.
5 Choice Chocolate Quotes
"The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain."
"Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power. it is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits."
--Baron Justus von Liebig, German chemist
"Forget love... I'd rather fall in chocolate!"
"Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing."
--Milton Snavely Hershey, established Hershey Chocolate Co in 1903
"(Chocolate is) the damnable agent of necromancers and sorcerers. It is well to abstain from chocolate in order to avoid the familiarity and company of a nation so suspected of sorcery (Spain)."
French cleric, 1620
1 Choco-tastic! Joke
Mom: "Fred, there were two chocolate cakes in the larder yesterday, and now there's only one. Why?"
Fred: "I don't know. It must have been so dark I didn't see the other one."
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