Oh chocolate ! It is undeniably one of the most loved food in the world–from bars, luxury brownies, chocolate dipped strawberries and gift boxed chocolates–everything just seems better with chocolate, don’t you agree?
But did you know that chocolate actually has a very rich history? Take a look at some of the most amazing facts about our favorite sweet treat:
1. The scientific name of cocoa tree is Theobroma Cacao, Greek for “food for the Gods”. But the word chocolate actually comes from the Aztec term “Xocolatl” meaning bitter water.
2. Chocolate has been very valuable through history. The Aztecs believed that the cocoa beans are gifts from their god Quetzalcoatl and used them as currency (10 beans = a rabbit, 100 beans = a servant). In the American Revolutionary War, chocolate was used to pay the soldiers.
3. The first chocolate bar was invented in 1847 by Joseph Fry. His company Fry & Son eventually merged with Cadbury.
4. Most of the world’s chocolate supply comes from Latin America (15%), Asia (17%) and Africa (68%). 33% of the global supply actually comes from Côte d’Ivoire in Africa.
5. In Switzerland, Germany, Ireland and Great Britain, each person is estimated to eat 24 lbs of chocolate each year. This makes the four European countries the top consumers of chocolate in the entire world. The average American eats half a pound while the Chinese eat just 99 grams a year.
6. Theobromine, the chemical compound found in chocolate has been found to be an effective cough suppressant. This is the same compound that is poisonous to dogs though. Dogs metabolize theobromine too slowly, which is why chocolates are fatal to them.
7. In 1947, hundreds of children in Canada went on strike as a protest when the price of chocolate increased from 5 cents to 8 cents.
8. Instead of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl book), the film was named Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory because Quaker Oats finance the film to promote their new Wonka Bar candy.
9. For the longest time (actually about 90% of chocolate history), chocolate was consumed as a liquid.
10. Cacao plant does not grow beans until it is about 3 years old. And it takes about 400 cacao beans to make 450 grams of chocolate.
11. M&M’s were invented in 1941 so that soldiers can enjoy chocolate that doesn’t melt right away. M&M’s has been a part of every space shuttle mission since 1981.
12. The largest chocolate bar ever made (created by Thorntons plc, UK) weighed over 12,770 pounds and measured about 13x13x1 feet.
13. Chocolate milk, considered an effective post-workout drink, was invented by Irish botanist Sir Hans Sloane in the 1700s.
14. The most expensive chocolate bar ever sold at an auction is a 100-year-old Cadbury chocolate bar which Captain Robert Scott brought with him to his first Discovery Expedition to the Antarctic. The chocolate bar is 4 inches long, wrapped and uneaten in a cigarette tin. It was sold at a 2001 Christie’s auction for £470 ($687).
15. An article published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there is a correlation between the amount of chocolates a country consumes and the number of Nobel Laureates the country has achieved.
Which is your favorite chocolate fact? Hungry for more tidbits of chocolate knowledge? Here are more chocolate-y facts for you to enjoy: