If you’re a fan of the rich, smooth taste of chocolate, you probably won’t be surprised that it’s one of the most popular sweet treats in the world. The delicate flavor of white chocolate, the sugary delights of milk chocolate and the bittersweet tang of dark chocolate – it comes in an unbelievable range of flavors and styles. So in honor of this year’s National Chocolate Day on October 28, here are five fascinating facts about this delicious food to share with all your chocoholic friends.
1. Chocolate comes from trees
Chocolate is made from the cacao bean, which comes from a tree called Theobroma cacao. Rather fittingly, its name means ‘Food of the Gods’ in Greek. The tree is indigenous to Central and South America, but nowadays, most cacao is cultivated in Africa. The beans grow within the pod-like fruit of the tree before being harvested and it takes approximately 400 beans to make just one pound of chocolate.
2. Chocolate has always been valuable
It’s estimated that chocolate dates back at least 2,000 years, although some believe it has been around far longer that. It was originally enjoyed as a bitter drink used on ceremonial occasions. The Mayans and Aztecs believed that the cacao bean had mystical properties and used it in important rituals. In fact, the beans were valued so highly that they were even used as currency. The Spanish were the first to sweeten chocolate and when they brought it back to Europe it quickly became extremely popular among those who could afford it.
3. White chocolate isn’t really chocolate
This might come as a bit of a surprise, but white chocolate doesn’t count as chocolate in the strictest sense. This is because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor. However, it does contain parts of the cacao bean in the form of cocoa butter. Luckily it still tastes delicious and most people still count it as one of the three main types of chocolate – milk, dark and white. In 2017 a new variety of chocolate known as ruby chocolate was introduced, which has a gorgeous pink color and fresh fruity taste.
4. Chocolate is good for you
Chocolate lovers everywhere can rejoice – chocolate is officially good for you! Specifically dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants and nutrients such as iron, copper and magnesium. Studies have shown it to be good at protecting your heart, lowering blood pressure, boosting mood, improving cognitive function and even keeping your skin healthy. So if you need another reason to indulge in a bar or get some chocolate gift boxes for friends, now you’ve found it.
5. The world’s first chocolate bar was invented in the UK
The first bar of ‘eating’ chocolate as we know it today was created by a British company called Fry and Son in 1847. The company added additional cocoa butter to make chocolate moldable. The first milk chocolate bar was made in Switzerland in 1875 and even now Europe has the highest per-capita consumption of chocolate in the world.