Here’s how chocolate was introduced to the world
World Chocolate Day celebrated on July 7 is all about celebrating perhaps the finest creation of humankind. If there ever was anything that everyone unanimously agreed upon, it would be about chocolate’s delicious taste. Chocolates, aside from being mouth-watering, also work as a perfect mood enhancer and has some surprising health benefits. Whether you prefer hot cocoa drinks, dark chocolate bars, gooey brownies or truffle cakes, chocolate provides something for everyone.
Chocolate originated in Mesoamerica and the first fermented chocolate beverage dates back to 450 BC. The origin of the word ‘chocolate’ is from the classical ‘Nahuatl’ word – Xocolātl. The Aztecs were of the belief that the cacao seeds were a gift from the God of wisdom and it steadily became so popular that it began being used as currency. Personally, we would not mind reverting to that tradition!
Chocolate, as we know it now, is made from cacao beans or seeds from the Theobroma cacao tree. The cacao plant produces a fruit similar to a pod in structure, with each pop containing 20-60 beans surrounded by sticky white pulp. In order to become the final product, it has to go throught various steps of processing which include fermentation, drying, roasting and grinding.
Chocolate was initially consumed only in drink form and was quite bitter to taste. A drink called ‘Chilate’ was made out of it, once mixed with spices and corn puree. It was believed to give the drinker strength and worked as a powerful aphrodisiac.
In 1519, the Aztec Emperor Montezuma served the drink called Xocolātl to the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés. Cortés took the beverage back to Spain with him and infused it with sugar, vanilla and cinnamon to give it an extra flavour and the rest is (chocolatey) history. The beverage became exceedingly popular in France and England in the 1600s following its Spanish episode. It was only in the 1800s that people learnt to make edible chocolates.
Fun fact: Chocolate was considered an essential ration for the soldiers of the United States in the 20th century. World Chocolate Day has been celebrated globally on the July 7 since 2009 and some even believe that it commemorates the day chocolate was introduced to Europe in 1550. The only way to properly celebrate this holiday is to binge on all sorts of chocolate filled delights.