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World Chocolate Day: History of chocolate, from beverage to chocolate bar

Chocolate Day 2019: Find out the origins of chocolate and how it came to be in the present form which we all love. Also, know about some of the unusual flavours of chocolate and its health benefits.

art and culture Updated: Jul 06, 2019 17:23 IST
Shreya Kumar
Shreya Kumar
Hindustan Times, Delhi
chocolate,cocoa,benefits of chocolate
Chocolate Day 2019: Find out the origins of chocolate and how it came to be in the present form which we all love.(Unsplash)

It’s safe to say that a lot of people love chocolate, but not everyone knows about the origin and history of chocolate. Chocolate which is now famous in the form of a chocolate bar was earlier just consumed as a non-sweet beverage for 90% of its history. The chocolate of today is very different from the chocolate of yesterday. And the journey of this transformation is noteworthy.

History of chocolate

Researchers believe that chocolate has been around for more than 2000 years. The word chocolate originated from the Aztec word “xocoatl” which was used for bitter drinks that were brewed from cacao beans. Cocoa is used in reference to the plant and its beans while chocolate is the name of the product after the beans are processed. The earliest evidence of chocolate can be traced back to pre-Colombian cultures of Mesoamerica which is now known as Mexico. Aztecs, the indigenous people of Mesoamerica believed that the cocoa seeds were ‘food of the gods’. Moreover, the significance of the cocoa beans was such that one could use them as currency to buy food and goods.

Chocolate arrived first in Spain in the late 1500s and then spread to other European countries. Shortly, the cocoa beans became very popular in Europe, but the traditional Aztec recipe for the chocolate drink wasn’t appreciated by the people. Therefore, the Europeans started making their own version of the drink by using cane sugar, cinnamon and other flavourings. The creation of the first chocolate bar by Joseph Fry was possible after a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate from the beans. Soon after Cadbury was marketing boxed chocolates in England. But the major revolution came after the invention of milk chocolates by Daniel Peter and then setting up the company Nestle with his friend Henri Nestle. Since then chocolate has come a long way from evolution in taste to the changes in farming and harvesting methods.

ALSO READ: Chocolate is an aphrodisiac, here’s all you need to know about how it boosts your sex life

Some unusual flavours of chocolates

Milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate are some of the well-known types and flavours of chocolates. The world of chocolate is not just limited to these few types of chocolates, it ranges from weird flavours like peanut and ketchup to chocolate covered insects. We have made a list of some of the lesser-known chocolate flavours for you to try, which are hopefully not too weird for your taste.

1. Red Fire Bar: This chocolate is made up of hot chillies and cinnamon by melting it into the dark chocolate.

2. Green Tea KitKat: This flavour is common in Japan where KitKat has already launched 100 unusual flavours like cheese and vegetables. Don’t think that just because it has green tea it is a healthy option.

3. Cigar chocolate: Cigar leaves marinated in rum and cognac is every smoker’s dream. This could also be a new way to get nicotine fix for smokers.

4. Salt chocolate: From Himalayan pink salt to Alderwood smoked salt, can be some of the ingredients in these chocolates. If you are looking for a unique experience, then go for this flavour of chocolate.

5. Camel milk chocolate: Al Nassma in Dubai is the only company which makes chocolate from camel’s milk. This premium chocolate tastes like malt and mineral.

Benefits of chocolates

Chocolates have always been deemed as an unhealthy food option. Obesity, high blood pressure, breakouts and diabetes have been associated with chocolates for a long time now. But chocolate isn’t all bad for your health if taken in moderation. According to a review from the Netherlands Journals of medicine chocolate has antioxidant properties and eating dark chocolates can boost oxygen availability during fitness training. Moreover, the consumption of chocolate bars containing plant sterols and cocoa flavanols are good for lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure. The scientists at Harvard Medical School found that drinking hot chocolate could help older people to reduce memory decline. Eat chocolate but not too much, this way you can savour its taste without harming your body.

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First Published: Jul 06, 2019 17:23 IST