What Came First: Solid Chocolate or Chocolate Drink?
This is the Story of the Modern Chocolate
Breathe in. Can you smell it? That sweet, vanilla and a little bitter aroma? Now close your eyes and imagine this thick creamy brown liquid. A brown glossy liquid with that mouthwatering aroma. Imagine it, think about it. Aaaah, my mouth is watering already! What do you think am I talking about? It has to be chocolate:)
Chocolate is obtained from the Theobroma Cacao seed. Many many thousands of years ago, the people living in the Aztec Empire, now in Mexico are known to have made a drink called xhocolatl. This drink can be traced back to 900 AD. Xhocolatl was made by roasting and grinding cocoa nibs then mixed in water. Needless to say, this was very bitter in taste but this drink was made as the ‘Food of the Gods’ and might have been considered holy.
Fastforward all those centuries into the 16th Century AD. In 1528, Herman Cortés who was a Spanish conquistador brought back with him a set of strange beans and utensils to Europe. Here he made a bitter brown coloured coarse liquid from those beans. It was spiteful, bah! too bitter…..
Soon things changed. Most Europeans liked the new cocoa beans and they liked this new drink. You could drink it hot or cold. Eventually they began adding vanilla and honey to it, making it sweet. Xhocolatl became chocolate and high society began to guzzle on this new drink.
After this, there wasn’t much happening in the chocolate world. Until…
1842, 18 years after setting shop on 93 Bulls Street in Birmingham, John Cadbury was doing well. He was selling 16 varieties of drinking chocolate and 11 varieties of cocoa. From his days of using pestle and mortar to make chocolate, he had come far. In 1847, the Cadbury factory moved into a 4 storey warehouse to produce drinking chocolate en masse.
World’s First Chocolate Bar
That same year, Joesph Fry had invented the world’s first chocolate bar. All he had done was mixed cocoa and sugar along with some little amounts of molten cocoa butter that was extracted from the cocoa bean. This mixture could be moulded resulting in a bar of chocolate. If you were to taste this chocolate bar today, you’ll probably call it ghastly! This bar of chocolate would have been coarse and bitter, not smooth and sweet like we are used to.
The Revolutionary Decades
In 1866, Dutch Coenraad Johannes Von Houten invented the Cocoa Press. This press was beneficial in removing most of the cocoa butter from cocoa. It helped reduce the peculiar taste of cocoa butter. Starch was no longer needed to hide its smell. The chocolate bars could be made more efficiently and could have a uniform consistency. Yet there was still a problem: the chocolate was too coarse.
A Swiss Chocolatier in 1875 mixed cocoa, sugar and powdered milk together. This Swiss Chocolatier was Daniel Peters and he was the one who invented the milk chocolate.
A year later, Rodolphe Lindt was unsuccessfully trying to make chocolate that would melt in the mouth. One day he left his factory for the weekend and forgot to shut his machine off. The machine kept grinding the chocolate over the weekend. After 72 hours, when Mr.Lindt went back to begin his work week, he found out a dark substance waiting for him in the shop, but this substance smelt great! And after a daring attempt to taste it, the substance tasted great too. He had finally found out the missing piece: the chocolate needed to go under the process of ‘conching.’ That day, Mr. Rodolphe might have been the first person in the world to taste melting chocolate.
How about a KISS?
After Cadbury and Lindt, other key players launched their own chocolate in the industry. In 1886, Milton Hershey’s saw that his third venture in the confectionary business had finally picked up. The Hershey’s caramel company was doing well. 8 years or so later, Hershey’s launched Hershey Cocoa and the Hershey brand was born.
And of course back in the day, when the Hershey’s KISS made its debut in 1907, those tiny chocolates used to be wrapped by hand! So much work for love:)
Its Dairy Milk!
In 1897, Cadbury launched their own milk chocolate. It was a mesh up of cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder paste. Unfortunately, this chocolate was not very good. It was coarse, bitter and dry.
At the turn of the century, Cadbury finally struck gold with a new chocolate bar that was made of an actual glass and a half of milk for every pound of chocolate. In 1905, they launched Dairy Milk. Since then, the Daily Milk is ruling hearts across the world in a wide range of flavours.
What About The Others?
After 1905, there was a large influx of new chocolate manufacturers. 1909 saw the filing of a new patent in Bern, Switzerland about a chocolate that had nougat, almond and honey. It had a weird shape. Its inventor has been influenced by the pyramid shape formation made by the dancers Folies Bergères during a show finale. This bar of chocolate was called ‘Toblerone’
In 1932, the Mars Bar was launched by Forrest Mars in Slough, UK. Mars also became a part of the soldiers supplies in the WW2 and was given to German prisoners of war.
And finally in 1982, the king of chocolates, Ferrero Rocher was launched. What can I say about the most beautifully wrapped chocolate? Its crunchy wrappings, Nutella on the inside can be the most evocative of things.
Writing this article was really difficult. I could feel the chocolates beckoning to me, asking me to have a bite and another one and another one. Needless to say, I succumbed to it. After all a chocolate can do that to people, can’t it?
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