Who Invented chocolate? There’s nothing better than chocolate! It’s in everything, from dessert to breakfast cereals, and we can’t seem to get enough! So who actually invented chocolate in the first place? When you think of chocolate, you probably picture sugary candy bars, cakes, and other delicious desserts. But it turns out that’s actually a fairly new way to have chocolate.
History of Chocolate
For most of its history, chocolate was only used as a drink and had no sugar added to it at all. Most modern historians believe that chocolate has been around for close to 4,000 years, and maybe much longer.
The earliest evidence of chocolate can be found in South American cultures like the Olmec, who
lived there three or four thousand years ago. To South American civilizations like the Olmec, and later, the Mayans and Aztecs, chocolate was extremely valuable, and the cacao beans used to make it were even traded as currency. They considered chocolate to be a divine gift from the Gods. Sugar wasn’t added to chocolate until after Europeans invaded South America.
The Aztecs believed that Spanish invader Hernan Cortez was an Aztec god reincarnated. They treated Cortez and his men to a giant banquet that included their divine Aztec chocolate drink, but the Spaniards found it too bitter to enjoy so they started to mix the chocolate drinks with sugarcane or honey, and suddenly it wasn’t so bad.
Sadly for the Aztecs, Cortez wasn’t a reincarnated god, he was an invader with a large army and went on to loot tons of gold and chocolate that were brought back to Europe. Sweet chocolate drinks quickly became popular all around Europe among the rich.
It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the steam engine that chocolate could finally be mass-produced and available to the masses.
Joseph Fry, Inventor of Modern Chocolate
Okay, so chocolate is super old and was a bitter drink a lot longer than it was sweet, but when did it change from a drink to food? The modern chocolate bar was invented by an Englishman named Joseph Fry. In 1847, he figured out how to make a thick chocolate paste by mixing cocoa butter with powdered chocolate.
By 1868, the English company Cadbury was selling chocolate candies, and a few years later milk chocolate was created by mixing in powdered milk, and before we knew it the world’s greatest treat had reached it’s
fully modern form.
Today, the chocolate industry rakes in more than $4 billion a year in the U.S. alone and the average
American eats about a half a pound of chocolate per month.
Chocolate ingredients, Where Does Come From?
So, Where does chocolate come from?
Believe it or not, chocolate grows on trees! The main ingredient in a chocolate bar starts
out looking just like this. They look nothing like a chocolate bar or even the cocoa powder we put in hot chocolate.
Those are actually beans. And not just any beans! The beans that give us chocolate grows on the cacao tree and it takes a lot of hard work to turn them into the type of chocolate that we can eat.
You might think any tree that helps us to make chocolate is pretty special, and you’d be right! Cacao trees are picky about where they grow because they need lots of heat and water.
So most cacao trees grow in the part of the world that’s right in the middle, where there are a lot of warm, wet rainforests. Now, even though the cacao tree needs lots of heat, it doesn’t do well in the bright sun.
So the tree doesn’t get too tall. Instead, it grows closer to the ground, where it can stay mostly in the shade that’s made by taller trees. Like a lot of trees, the cacao tree makes flowers. Its flowers are white, and they grow right along the main part of the tree — straight out of the bark!
Part of these flowers eventually grows into big pods. It can take six whole months for the pods to be ready. That’s half of a year! Once a cacao pod is ripe and ready, a person cuts it from the tree using a sharp knife. And when they open up the pod, it looks like this!
Can you see the beans? Inside of each pod is about 50 cacao beans, along with a bunch of white stuff called the pulp. People scoop out the beans and pulp from inside the pods, then put what they scooped out into big wooden boxes and leave everything alone for about a week.
During that week, the white pulp turns into a liquid, leaving behind the cacao beans, which are then put out into the sun to get nice and dry. Now, these beans may be brown like the chocolate you see in stores, but they don’t taste like that chocolate!
A cacao bean tastes pretty bitter, and it takes some work in a chocolate factory to turn these beans into the delicious treats that we get to eat. At the factory, the first thing they do is roast the beans in big ovens.
After a cacao bean is roasted, it turns dark and looks like this. Next, they take off the hard outside of the cacao beans, leaving the soft insides. Then, they smash and grind the insides until
it’s a thin paste. And we can do lots of different things with this paste!
To make a chocolate bar, the chocolate factory mixes the paste with things like sugar and milk. Then they stir the mixture for a long time and pour it into a mold, which is kind of like a bowl that’s specially shaped to look like a chocolate bar.
They leave the chocolate to cool for a while and become solid instead of all liquidy. Then, they take it out of the mold, wrap it, and send it to stores for us to buy! From a cacao tree to your store, there’s a lot of work that goes into one piece of chocolate.
Is white chocolate really chocolate?
To understand the chemistry of white chocolate and why so many people refuse to call it chocolate, we have to understand a little bit about how chocolate is made.
It starts out as cacao beans, which are harvested, fermented, and roasted. After roasting, the beans are ground and pressed to remove an oily substance known as cocoa butter, and that’s where our white chocolate
Because at this point, the process of making chocolate splits into a few different paths, generally involving how much of that cocoa butter and solids is going to be involved in the final product. To make cocoa powder, most of the cocoa butter is removed and the remaining cocoa solids are dried.
To make baking and eating chocolate, some cocoa butter is left in the final product, then sugar and milk fat and solids are thrown in. But to make white chocolate, it’s all about the cocoa butter.
Cocoa butter is mostly made up of fatty acids palmitic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid. Those fatty acids are tied up in groups of three called triglycerides. They only contribute fat-soluble flavor compounds of cocoa but mix those fats with sugar, dried milk, and vanilla for a much-needed flavor boost, and ta-dah: we’ve got white chocolate.
But cocoa butter creates the velvety texture of eating chocolate, so we have those fatty acids to thank for that. The cocoa butter has unique melting properties which is suitable melt-in-mouth during consuming.
Also, this property makes white chocolate easy to work with when decorating confectionery, and its color contrast makes for a lovely accent. But what makes white chocolate stand out is really more about what it’s missing.
The cocoa liquor, which is what chocolate makers call the paste made from the roasted beans, is widely considered to be the heart and soul of “real” chocolate. That’s because it has a huge variety of flavor compounds and other plant chemicals that give chocolate its uniquely divine flavor.
But when the cocoa solids are pressed, most of those chemicals stay with the ground beans, not the cocoa butter. Additionally, all those purported health benefits of dark chocolate?
The compounds thought to be beneficial — the polyphenols — is once again missing from white chocolate. It’s pretty much just fat and sugar, we’re sorry/not sorry to say. That doesn’t mean people haven’t tried
to make it healthier.
One research group even tried to add the essential dietary fatty acids EPA and DHA to white chocolate to help people boost their intake of brain-healthy omega-3s.
And since those fats blend well with fats in white chocolate, it even kinda worked! We’d still advise you keep it as a sometimes only food, though.
So that’s white chocolate. But is it real chocolate?
We can tell you that compared to milk and dark chocolate, white chocolate lacks a lot of key chemistry. But it tastes nice, and it looks awfully pretty drizzled over truffles.