The History of Chocolate

The History of Chocolate

If you want to thank someone for the gift of chocolate, tip your hat to the ancient Mayans and Olmecs of southern Mexico. However, you probably wouldn’t want to eat the type of chocolate they consumed. It’s hard to believe, but for centuries, chocolate was bitter and almost inedible, even as it was regarded as a delicacy.

So, how did chocolate rise to such acclaim? We explore the history of our favorite sweet treat.

Although it is thought that the Olmec people may have used cacao in ceremonial drinks, we do know that the Mayans consumed, and indeed revered, chocolate. It’s mentioned as being used in drinks for important celebrations. In fact, the Mayans believed chocolate was a gift from the gods (and they’re not wrong).

Chocolate Travels to Europe

At some point in the 1500s chocolate arrived in Europe via Spain, and by the end of the century, chocolate was a regular indulgence in the Spanish court. From there, chocolate spread across Europe, with other countries creating their own hot chocolate recipes using cane sugar, cinnamon, and other spices.

Chocolate Enjoyed by the Masses

Until the 1800s, chocolate was an indulgence mainly for the rich. That all changed in 1828 when a Dutch chemist invented a way to make a less expensive cacao powder or “Dutch cocoa”. This new type of cocoa could be used in a variety of different products. More importantly, chocolate became affordable for everyone for the first time.

The First Chocolate Bars

In 1847, British chocolatier J.S. Fry and Sons created the first chocolate bar made with sugar, chocolate liquor, and butter. Then in 1876, Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter added dried milk powder to create the first milk chocolate. He joined with his friend Henri Nestle to start the Nestle Company, which made the first mass-produced milk chocolate bar.

Even then, chocolate was still hard and not easy to chew. Finally, another Swiss chocolatier named Rudolf Lindt invented a machine that produced chocolate with a smoother consistency, making it easier to eat and blend with other ingredients.

By the late 19th and early 20th century, names like Cadbury, Hershey, and Mars had joined the revolution, creating their own confections.

The rest…as they say…is history.

Explore the Wonders of Chocolate

Want to see all the many personalities of chocolate? Join us for Chocolate Garden, January 24th – 26th, a delicious event for the whole family. It’s your chance to indulge in the magic of chocolate surrounded by the glories of nature.

Chocolate Garden Highlights:

  • The Milkshake Shoppe shakes blended by Whip’n Dip
  • Cupcakes and Cocktails at the Mixology Lab with Misha’s Cupcakes
  • Cinema au Chocolate featuring Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • Chocolate face painting and abstract chocolate spin art
  • L’Fete du Chocolat (Friday evening, Member exclusive dinner and wine pairing)
  • The Garden Speakeasy
  • Culinary demos
  • Chocolate lectures
  • Pudding eating contest
  • Shop at the Artisan Village & Food Hall
  • Plant Sale (ice cream banana plants, cacao trees & chocolate orchids)

Free for Fairchild Members
Adults: $25
Seniors: (age 65 and up): $18
Children (ages 6-17): $12
Free for children 5 and younger

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