Chocolate comes from the theobroma cacao tree. The Mayans consumed it as a beverage. Chocolate became a sacred elixir to the Mayans and the Aztecs. Archeologists discovered residues of chocolate in ancient jars that date back to 1100 BCE. They excavated the jars in Honduras.
Cacao trees grow in abundance throughout the Mayan territories. By 600 CE, the Mayans processed the cacao pods to produce a frothy, bitter beverage. They also blended their chocolate with spices like chili pepper and vanilla. Mayans believed the chocolate relieved tiredness.
They would dry & grind cacao beans into powder, adding other ingredients. The powder is stored & mixed with water for drinking or as a gruel for eating when desired.
Victorious warriors were awarded the beverage after the battle. They would use the drink during religious rituals. Cacao beans also served as currency. To the Aztecs, the beans were more valuable than gold. The Aztecs named the drink xocolatl or choqui, which means ‘warmth.’
English traders misspelled the word, and so the spelling of cocoa stuck.
In the 16th century, Hernán Cortes traveled to Mesoamerica to establish Spanish colonies. Then he took some beans back to Spain, where cocoa became fashionable at the Spanish court. They added vanilla, sugar, or honey. Yummy!
Chocolate became the drink of European aristocracies. No upper-class home was complete without chocolate!
Coenrad Van Houten from Amsterdam invented the cocoa press in 1828. The press separates the fat from the cocoa bean, leaving behind a fine powder. Soon, the public enjoyed it with milk — hence chocolate milk!
In 1847, the British chocolatier J.S. Fry recombined fat & liquor to chocolate powder & placed it in moulds, and voilà the chocolate bar was born! Then they created moulds to make chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies, and favorite animal characters to attract the children.
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Source: HOW IT WORKS bookazine series IP Imagine Publishing- volume 5.