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Print Posted By BIG World on 07/23/2017

The Origins Of Chocolate

The Origins Of Chocolate

Chocolate, a drink so sacred that only persons of the most exalted rank could partake of it - such is the magnificent origin of the common cocoa and chocolate.

 The cocoa tree was cultivated for centuries before the New World was discovered, by the Maya Indians, the Incas of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico, and chocolate, the drink prepared from its seeds was the national drink of the Aztecs. The Emperor Montezuma liked it flavored with vanilla but the majority of people added spices of many kinds.

When Cortez conquered Mexico in 1519 chocolate soon became a favorite drink with the Spaniards, and as a result it was introduced into Spain and eventually, in the 17th century, to the rest of Europe.

It was, however, an extremely expensive drink, costing from ten to fifteen shillings a pound, an exceptionally high price in those days.

The reason for its costliness is not far to seek. The cocoa tree is very particular as to where it will grow and even today, with all the scientific resources that a man has to hand, it still grows only in a narrow belt within ten degrees of the equator. Another reason is that each tree bears only a few pods; in fact the average annual yield is only two pounds of dried beans, equivalent to a pound of cocoa powder.

So it was that when the first chocolate drinking house was opened in London, in 1657, it was frequented in the main by people of wealth and fashion.

The drinking chocolate popular in the days of Queen Anne was very different from the refined and palatable beverage we know today. It was thick and rich, and either spiced or very sweet, and made from the whole bean with its full butter content.

By the early nineteenth century cocoa butter was balanced by farinaceous additives such as arrowroot, and made in handy blocks from which the required portion could be scraped into the cup or saucepan.

It was not until Van Houten of Holland, introduced in 1828 a method of pressing the cocoa butter out of the cocoa bean that anything resembling present day cocoa could be prepared. In fact it was not until Cadbury's brought out their Cocoa Essence in 1866 that a pure cocoa was available.

As to the introduction of eating chocolate, it is only assumed that as chocolate was sold in blocks no doubt cooks - and others - formed the habit of nibbling a bit while they were scraping it into cups !

For some years, however, after Van houten had introduced his mew method of preparing chocolate, most manufacturers still continued to make it in the old way that is by adding a quantity of arrowroot or some such substance to counterbalance the fattiness of the cocoa butter.

In 1824 a young Quaker, John Cadbury, opened a shop in Bull Street, Birmingham, for the sale of tea and coffee. He nevertheless experimented in the cellar of his shop with cocoa beans and was soon selling his own cocoa and chocolate.

This venture was so successful that in 1831 he rented a small factory to enlarge his manufacturing capacity and, in 1847, he took his brother into partnership and thus was founded the world-famous firm of Cadbury Brothers.

Formerly the chocolate centers were covered by the "bowlandfork" method. The centre was taken on a light, pronged fork, dipped into a bowl of liquid two-chocolate and withdrawn.

A few of the most expensive chocolates are still covered this way, but practically all-popular assortments are covered by machines called enrobers.

The enrobing machine consists of a conveyor mesh on which the chocolate centers travel through a cascade of liquid chocolate after which any identification marking or decorations are added, when they are then ready for packing.

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