History of Chocolate

Chocolate was discovered 2,000 years ago in the tropical rainforests of the Americas. The first people clearly known to have discovered the secret of cacao were the Classic Period Maya (250-900 A.D.). The Maya and their ancestors in Mesoamerica took the tree from the rainforest and grew it in their own backyards, where they harvested, fermented, roasted, and ground the seeds into a paste. When mixed with water, chile peppers, cornmeal, and other ingredients, the paste made a frothy, spicy chocolate drink.

Europe's first contact with chocolate came during the conquest of Mexico in 1521. The Spaniards recognized the value attached to cacao and observed the Aztec custom of drinking chocolate. Soon after, the Spanish began to ship cacao seeds back home. An expensive import, chocolate remained an elite beverage and a status symbol for Europe's upper classes for the next 300 years.

For hundreds of years, the chocolate-making process remained relatively unaltered. But by the mid 1700s, the blossoming Industrial Revolution saw the emergence of innovations that changed the future of chocolate. A steady stream of new inventions and advertising helped set the stage for solid chocolate candy to become the globally favored sweet it is today.

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