The average American eats 9.5 lbs of chocolate per year.
- Chocolate is actually made from a fruit – the cocoa pod. About 40 cocoa beans are contained within a cocoa pod.
- In Ghana cocoa trees are cultivated on small farms in amongst other rainforest crops such as corn, plantains, and bananas. The rainforest canopy and other plants protect the cocoa tree, providing shade from the intense Ghanaian sun.
- A cocoa tree will produce two harvests per year of about 50 pods. When a cocoa pod is ripe it will turn red, yellow or orange. Each pod contains about 40 almond-sized seeds – enough to make about eight bars of milk chocolate or four bars of dark chocolate. (Source: The BitterSweet World of Chocolate)
- Cocoa trees can live for up to 200 years, but only produce viable cocoa beans for 25 years.
- The Latin name for the cocoa tree is Theobroma Cacao which means ‘Food of the Gods’. The Swedish botanist Linnaeus gave the cocoa tree this name in the eighteenth century to demonstrate how revered the tree has always been.
- West Africa has been the center of world cocoa cultivation for over 60 years and today produces 70% of the world’s cocoa. (Source: ICCO 2012) The four major cocoa producers in West Africa are the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon.
- Ghana produces 25% of the world’s cocoa (Source: Worldcocoafoundation.org).
- 90% of the world’s cocoa production comes from smallholder farms (Source: fairtrade.org.uk)
- Ghana is the world’s second-biggest cocoa producing country. The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer.
- Did you know that playing music attracts snakes? So it is not a good idea for farmers to take a radio with them whilst harvesting their crop of cocoa!
- Cocoa is very prone to diseases like Black Pod, which can cause up to 10% of cocoa trees lost per year, and pests like Mirid, which feed on and damage cocoa pods.
HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
- The Olmecs of Mexico were the first civilization to use the cocoa beans which grew wild in Central America as far back as 1500BC. That’s over 3,500 years ago!
- The Mayans were the first real chocolate lovers. They roasted and ground the cocoa beans, then mixed in vanilla, chili, and spices to make a cold bitter drink with an oatmeal-like consistency. It tasted nothing like the hot chocolate drink that we love today.
- The Aztecs used the drink as part of their religious ceremonies. They believed that anyone who ate cocoa beans would be blessed with spiritual wisdom, energy, and enhanced sexual powers. The Aztec Emperor Montezuma reportedly drank fifty cups of chocolate each day. He said, “The divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food”. Chocolate truly has divine roots!
- The Aztecs loved and valued the cacao bean so highly that they used it as currency during the height of their civilization.
- Cocoa beans were brought back to Spain in the sixteenth century. It remained the drink of royalty and the aristocracy well into the eighteenth century and was drunk in bed at breakfast time.
- Chocolate houses began in London in the seventeenth century and were frequented by the upper classes. By 1700 there were about 2,000 chocolate houses in London.
- It has only been in the last 200 years that chocolate turned into the chocolate bars that fill our shelves today.
- A number of the big names in chocolate today ( such as Cadburys) were founded with money from Quaker families who were keen for chocolate to take the place of alcohol. They saw the consumption of alcohol as a sin, whereas chocolate consumption was merely a minor vice.
- During the Revolutionary War, some soldiers were fighting for freedom in exchange for chocolate. Since chocolate didn’t spoil, it was used as a ration. (Source: The Colonial Wiliamsburg Foundation)
- In 1879 a Ghanaian man named Tetteh Quarshie brought a few cocoa seedlings he retrieved from Fernando Po in Equatorial Guinea back home to Ghana which he planted on his farm in the small town of Mampong. The conditions proved ideal for growing cocoa, and his crop was exported from the country two years later. This marked the beginning of a revolution in Ghana’s national economy.
- By 1911 Ghana was the world’s largest cocoa producer and remains the world’s second-largest producer to this day. You can visit Tetteh Quarshie’s farm and see Ghana’s first cocoa plant – it’s still alive 130 years later!
- Cocoa is Ghana’s most important agricultural earner today.
CLAIMS MADE ABOUT THE POWERS OF CHOCOLATE
- The Aztecs were the first to purport that cocoa had aphrodisiac properties and for this reason all foods made with cocoa were forbidden to women! In the seventeenth century an Austrian professor tried to ban the drinking of chocolate in monasteries because it ‘inflamed passions’.
- When the Spanish colonized South American Aztecs and their lands, the Spanish discovered the Aztec’s special drink and found that a draught of chocolate could sustain them for a whole day’s hard marching.
- Chocolate contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium.
- Chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine which is released naturally in the body when you fall in love.
- Even the smell of chocolate causes relaxation: it significantly reduces theta activity in the brain which is associated with relaxation (Source: International Journal of Psychophysiology, 1998).
- A cup of cocoa (using pure cocoa powder) has double the amount of antioxidants as green tea (Source: Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, 2003).
- Chocolate contains dopamine, a natural painkiller, and serotonin, a natural chemical in the brain which contributes to feelings of happiness.
- Chocolate has over 400 distinct smells. A rose has only fourteen and an onion just six or seven.
CHOCOLATE INDUSTRY TODAY
- The US has the fourteenth highest consumption of chocolate in the world. The average American consumed 12 lbs of chocolate in 2017 (Source: Confectionary News). Switzerland takes the top spot. 40% of the chocolate eaten in the world is consumed in Europe.
- 66% of chocolate is consumed between meals with 22% of all chocolate consumed between 8pm and midnight (Source: The World Atlas of Chocolate).
- Americans buy more than 58 million pounds of chocolate for Valentine's Day (Source: The History Channel)
- The US chocolate industry is worth $1.4 billion (Source: World Cocoa Foundation) and sales of chocolate just keep growing and growing.
- 8,000 new chocolate products were introduced worldwide in 2008 – meaning that a new chocolate treat was launched almost every hour of every day in 2008 (Source: Mintel Global New Products Database, February 2009).
- Every second, Americans collectively eat 100 lbs. of chocolate (Source: South Florida Reporter)
- Nearly 7.7 million tonnes of chocolate will be consumed worldwide by the end of 2019 (Statista)
- A quarter of British people between the ages of 25 – 34 eat chocolate daily.
- It takes two to four days to make a single-serving chocolate bar.
- Savory dishes. Molé is ubiquitous with Mexico – it’s a traditional sauce for chicken, turkey or beef. Added to the tomatoes, chili, onions, and spices is a small amount of dark chocolate and this creates a really rich sauce. You can add a square or two of Divine’s 100% Unsweetened Baking Bar or 85% chocolate (or Divine cocoa) to lots of savory stews and sauces to add an extra flavor dimension and to make them really rich and glossy.
- Have you ever heard of chocolate art? Take a look at some of these incredible chocolate creations: www.foodisart.co.uk. Try your own on a smaller scale by using a brush to paint melted chocolate over a rose leaf (holding it by the stem), letting it dry, then carefully peeling off – fantastic decorations to cakes and puds!
- Did you know you can pair chocolate with wine and even tea? Take a look at Divine’s tasting notes.
- If you’re still not satiated then have a read of these chocolate classics: Charlie & the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl, 1964), Chocolat: A Novel (Joanne Harris, 1990), Like Water for Chocolate (Laura Esquivel, 1995)
- The Fairtrade cocoa price is a minimum of $2400 per tonne + $240 social premium per tonne.
- Fine chocolate does not have to mean a bar made with 70% plus cocoa solids. Quality depends on factors like the variety of beans, where they are grown, fermentation process, drying process, and the manufacturer’s recipe & methods.
- Chocolate features in Mozart’s opera Cosi Fan Tutte where a maid enters a chocolate shop carrying a chocolate pot and cups and is eventually tempted to taste it.
- In the 18th and 19th centuries it was common practice for corrupt persons to use brick dust and red lead in place of cocoa when making chocolate!
- Store your chocolate at room temperature, not in the fridge. Keep it away from direct sunlight and from changes in temperature or it will turn white-grey (this is known as blooming). White chocolate is especially vulnerable to picking up foreign flavors, so keep it away from pungent foods.
- Is it spelled cocoa or cacao? Reputedly the Victorians couldn’t pronounce cacao and so renamed it cocoa.
- Chocolate was included in soldiers’ ration packs in World War I.
- "What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate." Katherine Hepburn
- "What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry chocolate instead." George Bernard Shaw (British playwright and critic)
- "If you are not feeling well, if you have not slept, chocolate will revive you. But you have no chocolate! I think of that again and again! My dear, how will you ever manage?" Marquise de Sévigné (French writer and lady of fashion) February 11, 1677
- "Chocolate is the greatest gift to women ever created, next to the likes of Paul Newman and Gene Kelly. It's something that should be had on a daily basis." Sandra Bullock
- "[Chocolate is a] divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a while day without food." Hernan Cortes
- "The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain." Thomas Jefferson
- "Oh, divine chocolate! They grind thee kneeling, Beat thee with hands praying, And drink thee with eyes to heaven." Marco Antonio Orellana (18th century)
- "Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea and universal medicine." Geronimo Piperni (1796) quoted by Antonio Lavedán, Spanish army surgeon, 1796
- "There is a kind of alchemy in the transformation of base chocolate into this wise fool’s gold." Joanne Harris, Chocolat
- "If any man has drunk a little too deeply from the cup of physical pleasure; if he has spent too much time at his desk that should have been spent asleep; if his fine spirits have become temporarily dulled; if he finds the air too damp, the minutes too slow, and the atmosphere too heavy to withstand; if he is obsessed by a fixed idea which bars him from any freedom of thought: if he is any of these poor creatures, we say, let him be given a good pint of amber-flavored chocolate... and marvels will be performed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1775-1826, author of ‘Physiologie du gout’ – ‘The Physiology of Taste’, one of the most celebrated works on food
- "Waked in the morning with my head in a sad taking through the last night’s drink, which I am very sorry for; so rose and went out with Mr Creed to drink our morning draft, which he did give me in chocolate to settle my sto