When we think about presents for Valentine’s Day we often choose to buy chocolate. Nowadays, we can find chocolate in different sizes and forms, from tiny truffles to big artistic statues. But, have you ever wonder where it comes from or why it is so popular?
According to the legend, cocoa beans were a gift to Mesoamerican people from the gods. It started as an energetic, dark, thick, frothy, bitter drink named ‘tchocolatl’ used only in religious ceremonies or very important social events. The cocoa bean was so important that it became the only accepted currency to pay taxes to the Aztec empire. After conquering Mexico, Spain introduced “Chocolate” to Europe but it was mixed with sugarcane and cinnamon to make it sweeter.
Chocolate became in such an international social trending that was mentioned in odes and songs. This beverage was so popular that chocolate houses were created so European high society could enjoy the flavor of the new continent. At that moment, monarchy drank hot chocolate all along Europe.
THE BEGINNING OF CONFECTIONERY PROCESSING
Chocolate remain liquid till the XIX century when it changed to solid. Solid chocolate crumbled in the mouth providing new sensations. This change leaded to the first confectionery processes and many innovations in the industry.
One of the first innovations was made by an English engineer who tried to produce chocolate under controlled conditions using some sort of mill. In Holland, another engineer could improve chocolate production through the extraction of oil from cocoa beans using an hydraulic press. The industry of chocolate improved with each innovation for grounding and homogenization of chocolate and sugar. When the chocolate furor arrived to United States, cocoa beans were processed for the first time in Massachusetts in a factory that would be Walter Baker & Co. Owed to the importance that chocolate was earning, a confectionery store was open in Philadelphia, which would become one of the most important factories of those days – Hershey’s. To improve the quality and texture of the chocolate, a Swiss engineer grinded cocoa beans quite fine, process that he named “conching” which produced a better and smoother taste. This innovation made Switzerland go several decades further than other countries, which gave the fame it has nowadays.
CHOCOLATE FOR LOVE
It’s quite common to give chocolates in Valentine’s Day. You may think it is because pretty much all of us like this snack, but there is more. Chocolate contains endorphins that produce a physical and emotional effect similar to what we feel when we are in love: we give love in the love day! It also helps us to take care of our heart since it keeps it healthy and creates the conditions required for a good blood flow.
What if there is no love to celebrate with? Well, we can get some chocolates for ourselves since they stimulate serotonin interchange in our brains which make us feel happy. Besides, the antibacterial effects of cocoa beans are higher than those in the green tea and coffee because chocolate has way more antioxidants.
Definitively, chocolate is in the taste of many people regardless of social status or feelings. We can all spoil ourselves from time to time, with all flavours and presentations of chocolate just because it tastes awesome.
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