Plates and cups are found in Latin America. They date back to 2000 BC and contained cocoa grain residue.
200 AD – 900 AD
Cocoa was an important part of the Mayan agricultural and religious culture. They drank a spicy chocolate drink called “xocoatl”. It was made by grinding up cocoa beans on a stone, adding water and spices such as chilli. The liquid mixture was then poured back and forth between 2 jugs from a great height. The end result was a gritty spicy frothy drink! The drink was prepared for ceremonial and religious occasions. The Mayans also used the cocoa beans as currency.
900 AD – 1500 AD
The Aztec culture became established in Mexico. They worshipped the same mystical Gods as the Mayans and used “xocoatl” in much the same way. The Aztec based their entire monetary system on the cocoa bean and even paid their taxes with them!
1500 AD – 1600 AD
The Spanish were exploring the world looking for gold. Christopher Columbus landed in Latin America, discovered the cocoa bean and sent it back to Spain, however the Spanish failed to see its significance at this time. The Spanish also didn’t think much of the drink as its bitter taste did not suit their sweet palate. In 1519 Hernan Cortes, another Spaniard, arrived in the New World. Although he was also looking for gold, he found the cocoa bean and the chocolate drink. Within a decade, the Aztecs had convinced Cortes of the economic and nutritional value of the cocoa bean. In 1528 he imported the first cocoa bean into Spain. The Spanish then began to dominate the cocoa market and its cultivation in Latin America and tried to keep the secret of this “new gold” to themselves. It was at this time that nuns starting using honey and vanilla instead of chillies to prepare the drink which made it more palatable for European tastes.
1700 AD – 1800 AD
This was the beginning of the industrial revolution. Because of the advancements in machinery, chocolate could now be produced on a much larger scale. However, the industrial revolution was a mixed blessing for the chocolate industry as it lead to the downfall of handcrafted artisan chocolates. In 1728 the Fry family set up the first chocolate factory in Bristol using hydraulic machinery to process the chocolate.
1800 AD – 1900 AD
1828: A Dutch man, Van Houten, revolutionised both the chocolate and the cosmetic industries by inventing a machine that separates the cocoa mass from the cocoa butter. 1847: Fry’s made the first bar of chocolate – The Fry’s Chocolate Crème bar is still around today! 1875: Henri Nestle together with his friend, Daniel Peter, created milk chocolate by adding evaporated milk powder to chocolate. 1879: Lindt discovered the conching process to make chocolate smoother.
Present Day During this period there were more and more advancements in chocolate production methods. That, coupled with the fact that sugar became a cheap commodity, made chocolate cheaper to buy and therefore more available to all classes. In 1932 the first filled bar hit our shelves – the Mars Bar. As sugar was a cheap, it was used as the primary ingredients in chocolate. Because of this, chocolate bars were given to soldiers during World War 2 to supplement their rations as it was a good source of energy.
The Chocolate Tasting Club was created.
Hotel Chocolat was born when Choc Express was rebranded.