History of Chocolate

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Ever wonder how we would live without chocolate? Nothing can be comparable to that piece of chocolate melting in your mouth!! Chocolate which is derived from the Cacao tree dates back to the ancient Mayan civilization of Central and South America. The Mayans worshiped the Cacao tree and believed it to be of divine origin. They made a drink from the seeds of the Cacao tree (the seeds are known as cocoa beans today) by roasting and pounding the seeds with maize and chili peppers. They prized the drink so much that it was used only during ceremonies and was a drink consumed by the elite.

The Aztec civilization from Mexico also used the beans to make a beverage and prized the beans enough to use it as currency. The Aztecs called this drink Xocoatl which was later changed by the Spanish explorers to Chocolat which was further changed by the English to Chocolate as we know it today. Xocoatl was regarded as an aphrodisiac by the Aztecs and their Emperor Montezuma drank it 50 times a day and regarded it as a drink which built resistance and fought fatigue.

Chocolate first came into prominence in 1519 when the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez took back treasure chests of cocoa beans to Spain from the court of King Montezuma of Mexico. The drink was made more appetizing by mixing the ground roasted beans with sugar and vanilla. The Spanish were able to keep the cocoa drink a secret from the rest of Europe for almost a hundred years. The beverage spread further in Europe through the Spanish monks who were given the task of processing the cocoa beans. The monks let out the well guarded secret and the beverage finally reached England where the first chocolate house was opened.

An English company in 1847 introduced the first solid eating chocolate made by combining melted cocoa butter with sugar and cocoa powder and the Swiss devised a way of adding milk to it coming up with the first milk chocolate. Chocolate was introduced to America in 1755 when a factory was opened in Massachusetts. Chocolate was also recognized by the US government during World War II by making it a part of the ration of its soldiers and today candy bars have also reached space as part of the diet of U.S. astronauts.

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