Make some room in your schedule for National Chocolate Day! Just three short days after Thanksgiving, this holiday is one to be celebrated. Chocolate has more than just rich flavor, it also has a rich history. Get to know the background behind your favorite dessert and you might have a new appreciation.
You may be surprised to find that chocolate is a derivative of the cocoa bean. Cocoa beans come from the cacao tree. These trees are located close to the equator in warm and humid environments. In order for these trees to yield an optimal amount of beans, they need to be surrounded by taller trees to block the wind and sun. Mayans and Aztecs used to make a drink made from these beans called “xocoatll” which is pronounced like “chocotil”. This emerged into many other terms for chocolate like “chocalatall, jocolatte, and chockelet”.
Many centuries later in England 1847 the concept of edible chocolate was designed by the company Fry and Sons which later became Cadbury. It was more than just a bland drink, it was a hard candy morsel. Due to the cocoa beans bitter nature, the chocolate bar did not take off right away. Then, in 1874, a Swiss man named Daniel Peter, experimented with chocolate and added a key ingredient: milk. This added richness and flavor that sparked the mass production of the chocolate we know and love today.
Chocolate comes in many different forms from milk to white to dark, there’s bittersweet and there’s semisweet. You can find chocolate on your nuts, fruit, caramel, and raisins. Over the last century and a half, chocolate has had such a strong presence in our daily lives. It can be used to express your love on Valentine’s Day or it can be given out as a treat on Halloween. Chocolate is so diverse and has been experimented with in so many different ways. It has been melted, candy coated, infused, and cut into a million different shapes. It even fueled the concept behind Wonka’s mysteriously unique factory.
Many studies have shown that dark chocolate can be beneficial to your health. It helps to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of a heart attack. Did you also know that dark chocolate may play a role in stress reduction? Dark chocolate contains many phytochemicals, or chemicals naturally occurring in food that fight disease. Between the flavonoids and theobromine these phytochemicals work together to elicit a positive antioxidant response from your immune system.
This November 29th, find a way to add a small piece of dark chocolate into your life. Let the chocolate melt in your mouth- acknowledge its flavor, texture and richness. You can also add a little hazelnut chocolate spread to a piece of fruit for dessert. Or simply watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for fun.