“Research tells us that fourteen out of ten individuals like chocolates.” – Sandra Boynton
American humorist, Sandra Boynton is not wrong when she talks about the statistics with reference to chocolate lovers. I mean, who would dedicate an entire day (7th July) in celebration of something if they did not feel an immense amount of love for its existence? This rich, smooth, and creamy invention is easily one of mankind’s most versatile and delicious foods to exist. Dark, white, milk, and everything in between, there’s something for everyone.
However, what we now know strictly as a delicious food item, actually had a more important function to serve upon its inception. It all started back in Mesoamerica where cacao (the plant from which chocolate is made) was so precious that it was actually used as a currency! We honestly aren’t even surprised. Given the freedom, I too would love a world where peace prevailed and world trade flourished on cacao seeds. However, before this seed was converted into the delicious sweet treat, it went through a series of experimentation as both drinks and dishes to become what it is today. Its earliest use was in drinks made out of spices and sometimes even corn puree. Not the ideal combination, but practice does make perfect after all.
Deemed as an aphrodisiac, the substance was and continues to be believed to increase libido, thus making it a popular contributor to consumerism, among couples both young and old.
The question still remains: how and where it started its journey into the world of dessert. The first time cacao adopted its sweet form was with its arrival in Europe, for which we can thank Christopher Columbus. Sugar was added to cacao as well as to the romantic idea that this substance, this manna from heaven, with its magical powers, would give you power over women. Despite this myth being completely false, cacao drinks still continued to be served in gold cups and worshipped as a sinful indulgence that everyone should partake in. Interestingly enough, the Catholic Church of the time did attempt to label cacao and the popular frothed chocolate made from it, as “daemonic Diablo” or in simpler terms, pure evil and associated with Satan himself. This failed miserably and people refused to submit to the church and continued enjoying their cacao, either sugared or spiced.
Then came along the momentous movement of Industrialisation, the dark and light of all mankind, during which it took on its famous shape as a chocolate bar. There was no looking back after that. We now live in world of all kinds, shapes, sizes, and brands of chocolate to satiate even the toughest of taste buds. While Companies like Hershey’s made their mark in the United States, the classic Dairy Milk chocolates revolutionised the Indian market for chocolate along with Nestle, making it India’s most popular chocolate brand.
No matter what the age or location the chocolate had, it does and always will continue to dominate the hearts and minds of millions across the world.
Feature Image Credits: Kaedeen