The history of chocolate undoubtedly goes beyond the limits of our imagination - the first mention of the processing of cocoa beans comes from the time of the Olmec culture, so they are more than three thousand years old! The Olmecs were probably one of the first civilizations in the Gulf of Mexico, which began to process freely growing cocoa beans.
However, the first real cocoa growers and then "producers" of chocolate were the Mayans (not to be confused with the family of Karel May), who were able to change the cocoa beans into Cocahuatl's bitter-tasting drink around 500 BC. They often blended this cocoa beverage with other ingredients - honey, chilli, vanilla, spices, ...to influence the resulting flavor.
We also count the Aztecs among the first lovers of chocolate, who made a beverage called Xocolath from cocoa beans (we read it "chocolate"), which is certainly a predecessor of today's chocolate according to the name. The Aztecs recognized cocoa to such an extent that cocoa beans were even used directly as currency. One hundred cocoa beans could buy a slave! Around how many cocoa beans are probably contained in one tab of chocolate ...?
The existence of cocoa beans was discovered for Europe by Christopher Columbus in 1502 during his fourth exploratory voyage. However, it took another twenty years before the famous Spanish colonizer Hernán Cortés defeated the Aztec Montezuma’s army and brought cocoa beans to Spain. But let’s not condemn the cunning warrior, it was due to him that the story of chocolate begins in Spain in a form that is reminiscent of the taste we know now- Spanish monks achieved a completely new taste and quality, by adding sugar and other spices, this chocolate drink became the beverage of royal families throughout Europe over the next two hundred years. In the 18th century, chocolate was still considered to be a drink only for aristocrats and, in particular, wonder of wonders - was only allowed for adults, not for children. Can you imagine that?
The revolution in cocoa bean processing and chocolate production didn’t occur until the 19th century - the year 1847 is certainly important for us, when the chocolate factory Joseph Fry & Sons produced the first real bar of chocolate (finally!) by mixing cocoa, sugar and cocoa butter, which we still use today. At the end of the 19th century, Swiss producer Daniel Peter produced the first milk chocolate by adding condensed milk. Discoveries of new chocolate-making technologies were also crucial - thanks to the chocolate paste mixer (Phillipe Suchard) and the conching process (Rodolphe Lindt) today, chocolate not only tastes perfect but it is also delicate, glossy and creamy.
Nowadays, we can revel in an abundant amount of chocolate flavors, but the basis of good quality chocolate will always be the same - cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and the magic ingredients - the craft of our chocolate masters.
Source - From the original: The History of Chocolate - in a Cocoa Shell, Carl Turner; Chocolate SIG