A Brief History of Chocolate

Wedding chocolates

For hundreds of years, chocolate has been one of the best gifts to receive: It is relatively cheap, easy to carry or pack, and it tastes delicious. Gourmet chocolates in particular are popular for weddings, anniversaries, and various holidays. But what is the history behind this delectable treat?

The beginning: Chocolate originally comes from Mesoamerica and is harvested from the cocoa tree, which can live to be up to 200 years old, though they only produce marketable cocoa beans for about 25 years. Chocolate was originally consumed by the native people of this area, and was presented in a liquid form (think hot chocolate, but much more bitter). The earliest evidence of these chocolate beverages dates back to 1900 BCE.

Worth their weight: The Aztecs were one of the major groups to drink the chocolate beverage. They believed the seeds were a gift from the God of Wisdom — which is where the phrase “food of the gods” comes from. The cocoa seeds were so highly revered that they were used as a form of currency.

Form meets function: Unlike the luxury chocolates we purchase today at the store or when we buy chocolates online, this drink was frothy, bitter, and often mixed with other spices or even wine. To this day, the sweet is still believed to have aphrodisiac powers, and it was also said to give the drinker strength.

European debut: The English chocolate company Cadbury invented the world’s first chocolate bar in 1842, yet before that it arrived in Spain in the 1500’s. However, the Spanish had plans for this bitter drink: They added sugar to it. Once sugar was added, it immediately became popular throughout Europe, appearing first in upper class society, then among common people.

In the 1900’s, chocolate was widely understood as a staple. Purchasing the best chocolates around no longer broke the bank because it was mass-produced. The United States deemed it so important that it was rationed for soldiers at war.

Today’s chocolate: Two-thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa now because the climate is more suitable and the price to produce the beans is much cheaper. To make one pound of gourmet chocolates, it takes roughly 400 cocoa beans — so farmers need as much land as possible to cultivate the trees.

The price we pay: The U.S. chocolate store industry generates roughly $895 million in annual revenue, but this number can fluctuate quite a bit depending on demand. The prices can vary between $945 to $5,672 per ton in a span of just a few years.

The consumer: Producing chocolate is quite a journey, but the hardest part for the consumer is choosing what type of chocolate gift boxes to purchase for our special occasions. Gourmet chocolates will always be in high demand, so there is nothing to worry about — chocolate isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. For more information see this: www.miamibeachchocolates.com

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