Did you know that Christopher Columbus introduced Europe to the cocoa bean? Or that, more recently, chocolate has been taken into space as part of the diet of U.S. Astronauts? It’s all true and part of the fascinating history of chocolate.
According to the experts at Candy USA, “The story of chocolate, as far back as we know it, begins more than 2000 years ago in equatorial Central America.” Back then, Mayan Indians first created a beverage from crushed cocoa beans which came from the cacao plant. And for the Aztecs, cocoa beans were a form of currency as well as a chocolaty drink.
Cortes was probably the first “westerner” to realize the potential of cocoa and introduced a sweetened version to Spain in the 1500s. From there, a love for chocolate spread across Europe where it was enjoyed as “a delicious, health-giving drink.”
It wasn’t until the 19th century that chocolate began to be enjoyed as we know it today, as a candy created by combining melted cocoa butter with sugar and cocoa powder. But we’ve made up for lost time! During WWII, chocolate candy was supplied to the Allied Armed Forces, giving “them the energy to carry on until more food rations could be obtained.” And, with the dawning of the space age, chocolate was sent into orbit as a part of the diet of American astronauts.
One thing’s certain: as America’s favorite flavor, chocolate is in our future as well as our history!