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Chocolate History Part III

In this third part of our multi part series on chocolate, we're going to pick up our discussion continuing with the Industrial Revolution. When the Industrial Revolution hit, so did the mass production of chocolate, which spread its popularity among the more common folks of the world as up until that point chocolate was mostly for the elite and very wealthy. The first improvements to chocolate came with the Spaniards who liked the nourishment value of chocolate but felt that the taste itself could be improved on. Early chocolate was not like the chocolate we know today, sweet and tasty. It actually had a very bitter taste which was more an acquired one. The Spaniards improved on this by adding sugar, vanilla and other extracts.

With the new form and taste, chocolate houses began to pop up in England to go along with their already established coffee houses. The United States' first exposure to raw chocolate itself was in 1765 when John Hanan brought cocoa beans from the West Indies into Dorchester, Massachusetts, and refined them with the help of Dr. James Baker.

The first chocolate factory in the country was set up there. And yet, in spite of this, chocolate wasn't really accepted by the American colonists until fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts began to accept cocoa beans as payment for transporting various cargoes from tropical America. It wasn't until 1851, however, that the United States experienced its first tastes of bonbons, chocolate creams, hand candies (called "boiled sweets"), and caramels, thanks to Prince Albert of London. By 1891 chocolate was considered as much a part of our culture as tobacco, which was written about in an 1891 publication by Walter Baker. Up until this time, chocolate was mostly considered as a beverage only and was rarely consumed in solid form and it was usually drunk only by men.

Gradually it became an appropriate drink for children. It also had many different variations being added to milk, wine and beer. Eventually, drinking chocolate became a very sociable event. It wasn't until 1847 that the first chocolate bar for eating was made.

It was manufactured by a company by the name of Fry and Sons and went under the name "Chocolat Delicieux a Manger." Nestlé, one of the largest chocolate manufacturers today, points out that the four factors most responsible for chocolate's rise during the 1800s was the introduction of cocoa powder in 1828, the lowering of import taxes on cocoa, improvements in transportation from plantation to factory and finally the invention of the chocolate bar. The invention of the cocoa press in 1828 by C.J. Van Houten helped to greatly reduce the price of chocolate and bring it to the common folk.

During this time was the creation of what we know today as Dutch chocolate, which was made by squeezing out cocoa butter from the cocoa beans. Over the next 100 years many more improvements were made to chocolate. By the 1990s chocolate had become one of the most popular products in the world, with consumption of around 600,000 tons a year.

Chocolate has become as big a part of world culture as anything that has come before it and most likely will come after it. .

By: Michael Russell

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