How did chocolate become popular?

In 1785, Thomas Jefferson, who in 1801 became the third president of the United States of America, wrote a letter to John Adams, who in 1797 became the second president of the United States. The subject of discussion was chocolate.

Jefferson complained that it’s hard to find good, fresh chocolate in the American colonies: “Cocoa quickly bitters, and the difficulties in getting it in America are so great that it is used very little.”

“A way to increase its consumption is to deliver it immediately from the country where it grows, at a low price and good quality. The health and nutrition benefits of cocoa will soon make it on par with tea and coffee in America, ” he wrote.

Cocoa, according to the World Cocoa Foundation, was developed as a culture in many ancient South American cultures, including the Aztecs and Mayans. “The researchers found evidence that cocoa-based foods date back several thousand years. “Cocoa beans were so important to local cultures that they were used as currency in trade, given to soldiers as a reward after the battle, and served at royal festivals.”

According to the foundation, “when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World and began the process of invading, colonizing and eventually destroying local cultures, they also discovered the value of cocoa.”

Some historians estimate that chocolate has been a commodity for about 2000 years, Smithsonian magazine, published by the American Smithsonian Institution, a well-known museum and research complex, notes that recent studies show that it may be even older.

Indeed, in 2018, Cosmos announced a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, which indicates that the cultivation of cocoa (Theobroma cacao), the plants from which chocolate is obtained, occurred in the Santa Ana La Florida region in the southeast Ecuador at least 5450 years ago.

Besides, the Smithsonian Institution states: “About 90% of chocolate’s long history was strictly a drink, and sugar had nothing to do with it.”

The Spanish conquerors got acquainted with this bitter drink and did not find it pleasant to taste. But after it was mixed with honey or cane sugar, it quickly became popular throughout Spain and spread throughout Europe.

The next big change in chocolate consumption occurred in the UK, thanks to the Quaker family led by Joseph Fry, who was born in Wiltshire in 1728.

However, according to History, chocolate remained a product exclusively for aristocrats until 1828, when the Dutch chemist Conrad Johann van Houten released a cocoa press that could squeeze fatty oils from fried cocoa beans, leaving behind dry chips that could be ground into a much finer powder.

The cocoa press “marked the beginning of the modern era of chocolate, allowing it to be used as a confectionery ingredient, and as a result of lower production costs, chocolate became affordable for the masses.”

In 1847, JS Fry & Sons began to mix cocoa powder, sugar and cocoa butter and put the resulting paste into moulds, eventually producing chocolate bars.

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