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A Brief History of Chocolate

Or what we really want to know ...
"Who invented chocolate?"

The history of chocolate - the cocoa bean has been part of our history and culture for at least two thousand years. Its tradition is as rich as the chocolate we all enjoy so much.

Who invented chocolate? Well the ancient civilisations of the Aztec and Mayan people cultivated the cacao tree. It was through the Spanish conquering the New World that chocolate became such an important part of our food culture today.

Columbus was probably the first to experience chocolate but it was not until Hernando Cortes the conquistador in 1519 tasted the chocolate drink xocolati served by emperor Montezuma that the European fascination began.

It was a thick bitter brew of cocoa and maize meal flavoured with vanilla and chilli drunk out of pure gold beakers.

The cocoa beans were bought back to Spain where the Spanish began to sweeten the drink and spice it with cinnamon and nutmeg. It was also now being made with hot water.

Cocoa remained the domain of the Spanish and their colonies for over a century. The recipe was a closely guarded secret.

In the mid seventeenth century the custom of drinking chocolate spread to Europe and drunk by royalty and aristocrats. Chocolate was very expensive and very fashionable. Chocolate houses opened and the taste for chocolate was spreading.

In 1657 London’s first chocolate house opened where chocolate was sold as a drink and in the form of a cake which could be taken home.

In the 1700s the first chocolate factories were opened changing the history of chocolate forever. The first factory in Britain was established in 1728 and in Germany in 1756.

By 1730 the cultivation of cocoa had expanded dramatically reducing the price of cocoa. The industrial revolution enabled chocolate to be produce in large quantities making it cheaper and accessible to a wider population.

Decades of experimentation took place before the refined form of chocolate as we know it today developed. The addition of milk, sugar and the extraction of cocoa butter meant that chocolate was no longer just a drink but a food.

It was the Swiss who finally made the first true chocolate becoming internationally recognised and refining the production process firmly establishing chocolate as part of daily life the world over by the twentieth century.

Do you love chocolate? Well Inspired By Chocolate And Cakes is all about easy chocolate recipes - so explore and enjoy!

More chocolate facts can be found here.

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