Theobroma cocao is the scientific name for chocolate – meaning, “food of the gods”. It’s said the story of chocolate begins in Mesoameric thousands of years ago. The Aztecs so coveted cacao that it was used as currency. Originally the small chocolate bean was used to produce a hot frothy drink. Bitter to the taste, it was often mixed with other ingredients like spices and wine. Sugar wasn’t added to chocolate until the 1500’s; after that, it became an overnight sensation though out Europe.
The cocoa tree grows in the tropics, 20 degrees north or south of the equator. It loves shade and moisture and usually lives under the umbrella of other rain forest trees. One pod can produce 20 to 60 seeds. The process that the beans undergo, before they can be turned into what we know as chocolate, is extensive: first comes fermentation, then drying and bagging, winnowing, roasting, grinding and pressing. The two main ingredients that result from the extraction process are: blocks of compressed cocoa, and cocoa butter. Both are used to produce the delicious treat the has captivated the world.
Ironically, white chocolate has absolutely no cocoa mass in it: only cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. The ivory colored candy came on the scene in 1930, introduced to the world by the Nestle company. It’s reported that white chocolate has increased in demand over the past few years and is most popular in Brazil.
According to a study by US News report, the Swiss hold the title for the most chocolate consumed by any nation. Some claim that the Swiss also produce the best tasting chocolate in the world, with Belgian chocolate being a close second. No matter who you think makes the best creamy sensation on the planet, one thing is for sure, chocolate is here to stay. In the words of Charles M. Schulz, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
References: Wikipedia, Reference.com, xocoatl.org/tree.htm, Amano Chocolate, Cadbury.com, Quartz, Charts, Where in the world people actually eat white chocolate, US News,Top 10 Countries That Eat the Most Chocolate