History of Chocolate

Bryonna Weighmink
Thunderhawk staff writer

Americans eat approximately 26 pounds of candy each year. This is split equally between candy and chocolate. For all the chocolate you eat, have you ever stopped and wondered about the history of chocolate?

When the Mayan Indians moved from their home in Guatemala to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, they brought with them cacao from the rain forest. People in Central America began using the cacao beans as their money. Ten cacao beans could buy a rabbit or 100 beans could buy a slave. The beans were also used to make a bitter drink. The drink was used to treat coughs and fevers. When the Aztecs began to rule Mexico they used the cacao bean for a drink but they would add flowers, vanilla and honey.

Christopher Columbus drank xocoatl (chocolate) on his fourth voyage to America. Even though he didn’t like the drink, he took some of the cacao beans back to his homeland. Hernan Cortez was a young Spaniard who went to Cuba to find his fortune. He got his gold and silver but also returned to Spain with some cacao beans. In Spain only the rich could afford the chocolate drink. The first chocolate made by machine was produced in Barcelona, Spain.

The cacao beans went everywhere around the world. The first chocolate house was opened in England by a Frenchman. At this time chocolate cost 6 to 8 shillings per pound. A London coffeehouse sold the first solid chocolate in a stick form. The Baker Chocolate Company, established in Dorchester, Massachusetts by James Baker and John Hannon, was the first time chocolate was made in the United States. James Baker called his products “Baker’s Chocolate”.

The chocolate is everywhere around the world and everybody enjoys it but it is nice to have a little summary of where this delicious treat came from. So every time you take a bite out of a Hersey bar, you know it all started with the Mayans.

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