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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Chocolate

CHOCOLATE HISTORY

Early Central Americans and Mexicans used the seeds from the cacao tree to make a drink that tasted bitter, not sweet. The word for "chocolate" in almost every language comes from its name in the Nahuatl language of Mexico, chocolatl.

The Aztecs used chocolate as currency -- one hen was worth 100 cacao beans.

Europeans first came into contact with chocolate in 1519 when conquistadors of the Aztec Empire brought it back to the Spanish court of King Phillip II.

The word chocolate was first recorded in English in 1604, though England’s first cup of chocolate was not brewed until 1647.

At the start of the seventeenth century religious leaders found themselves engaged in arguments about whether chocolate was a beverage or a food. Religious fasts forbade the taking of nourishment, and yet chocolate had become popular among those who were fasting precisely because it eased their hunger. Most people, including all of the popes consulted during the course of the debate (from Gregory XIII to Benedict XIV) agreed that, since one drank it, it did not break the fast.

When Princess Maria Theresa of Spain was betrothed to Louis XIV of France in 1615, she gave her fiancé an engagement gift of chocolate, packaged in an elegantly ornate chest. Their marriage was symbolic of the marriage of chocolate in the Spanish-Franco culture.

Chocolate was once considered a temptation of the devil. In Central American mountain villages during the 18th century, no one under the age of 60 was permitted to drink it and church goers, who defied the rule, were threatened with excommunication.

Chocolate was a novelty during the 1700s in England. To be eaten it was “stewed for hours,” deprived of “cocoa butter,” “reboiled with milk and flavouring, and, just before serving, thickened with eggs.

In the early 17th century, the Sephardic Jews, driven out of Spain and Portugal by the Inquisition, brought the art of chocolate-making to Bayonne. They were so good at it that in 1761, their Catholic rivals formed a guild to ban ‘foreigners’ from making chocolate, astonishingly claiming that this had been forbidden to Jews ‘since time immemorial’.

Rodolphe Lindt of Berne, Switzerland invented the "conching" machine that heated and rolled chocolate in order to refine it in 1879. After the chocolate has been conched for seventy-two hours and had more cocoa butter added to it, it was possible to create smoother and creamier forms of chocolate than before.

Mr. Milton Hershey, the owner of a candy company became fascinated with German chocolate-making machinery on exhibit at the 1893 Chicago International Exposition the previous year. He bought the equipment for his Lancaster, Philadelphia plant and soon began producing his own chocolate coatings for caramels. The following year the Hershey Chocolate Company was created as a subsidiary of his Lancaster caramel business.

 In the 1920s, competition among candy firms was so fierce that they sent spies to steal each other’s innovations. During Roald Dahl’s childhood, the British companies Cadbury's and Rowntree's used to go to extreme lengths to find out development and manufacturing processes. It was this secrecy that inspired him to write Charlie & the Chocolate Factory.

FUN CHOCOLATE FACTS

The largest individual chocolate was a chocolate Hershey’s Kiss weighing 30,540 lbs (13,852.71 kg). The chocolate was made to celebrate Hershey's Kisses 100th anniversary and was unveiled at Chocolate World, Hershey, Pennsylvania on July 7, 2007.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans. About 40 cocoa beans are contained in each cocoa pod.

One cocoa tree produces about 50 pods twice a year. Each pod has enough cocoa for about eight bars of milk chocolate or four bars of dark. So each tree gives 400-800 bars of chocolate a year.

The Ivory Coast produces more cocoa than any other country (37 per cent of the world’s total). Ghana (just under 21 per cent) and Indonesia (almost 14 per cent) come next.

In 2013, a Belgian chocolate maker changed its name from Italo Suisse to "ISIS." It had to change it again the following year..

White chocolate is actually not chocolate at all because it does not contain cocoa.

Research published in 2012 showed a high correlation between a nation’s chocolate intake and the number of Nobel Prizes it wins.


Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine (PEA), the same chemical released in the brain when you fall in love.

Chocolate is the only edible substance to melt around 93° F, just below human body temperature. That’s why chocolate melts in your mouth.

Scientists have found chocolate has a chemical that helps counteract depression.

For people that are lactose intolerant, chocolate aids in helping milk digest easier.

Chocolate can be fatal to dogs. It affects their heart and nervous system, and a few ounces are enough to kill a small-sized dog.

A lethal dosage of chocolate for a human being is about 22lb (or 40 bars of Dairy Milk).

Dark chocolate is feasted on by "good" microbes in the gut, resulting in the production of anti-inflammatory compounds.

Ten per cent of the annual spending on chocolate in the UK takes place over Easter.

The Swiss eat the most chocolate equating to 10 kilos per person per year.

In the US, 100 pounds of chocolate are eaten every second.

Sources Daily Mail, Daily Express, Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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