It is difficult to imagine a world without chocolate. This is now one of the most popular snacks in the world and chocolate bars and treats are something that is stocked by most grocery stores. However, chocolate bars are a relatively new concept in the history of food as chocolate was once only available in liquid form and chocolate bars were not invented until 1847.
The use of chocolate as a drink has a long and interesting history. Historians believe that it could date back as far as 1750 BCE as they found artifacts in Mexico that show evidence of liquid chocolate consumption. Not only was cacao used to make chocolate drinks, the white pulp from the beans was also used to create an alcoholic beverage.
In some cultures, drinking chocolate was extremely significant. The Maya drank chocolate as part of their ceremonial purposes while the Aztecs associated the substance with the god Quetzalcoatl. Both the Maya and the Aztecs associated cacao with human sacrifice.
Prior to the 16th century, the Europeans had not heard of either the cacao bean or chocolate. It was introduced to them by Christopher Columbus and his son Ferdinand when they returned from their travels to the Americas. Even though it was gaining international recognition, chocolate remained an ingredient that was used solely as a liquid.
The first recorded use of chocolate as a solid substance was in 1815 when Coenraad van Houten, a Dutch chemist, created something called Dutch Cocoa. This involved removing half the natural fat and machine pressing the chocolate.
It wasn’t until 1847 that the first chocolate bar was created. English chocolatier Joseph Fry invented a way of making the chocolate moldable. He did this by mixing together cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and sugar. He opened a chocolate factory called Fry’s of Bristol and became the first man to mass produce chocolate bars. In 1866, he launched Fry’s Chocolate Cream and this became a very popular sweet treat during that era.
Milk chocolate was then invented by Daniel Peter, a Swiss chocolatier, in 1866. He did this by adding powdered milk that was created by Henri Nestle. Milk chocolate was then further developed by Rudolphe Lindt.
The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a significant period in the history of commercial chocolate as it was during this time that many companies got their start in the chocolate industry. These included both Nestle and Rowntrees of York. In 1868, Cadbury’s launched a range of boxed chocolates. In 1893, Hershey Chocolates began selling coated caramels after Milton S. Hershey bought some chocolate processing equipment in Chicago from the World’s Columbian Exposition.
Chocolate has come a long way since its early days of production. In addition to drinking chocolate, there is now an extensive range of chocolate bars available form grocery stores. These often include chocolate combined with many other ingredients. Chocolate manufacturers have taken things far beyond the original basic chocolate bar and can now mold creations into many forms to give as gifts, such as Easter eggs or hollow figurines. It now seems strange to think of chocolate as limited to a liquid form.