The History Of Chocolate

By Lee Dobbins


        Ever wonder how this favorite dessert and ingredient for baked goods came about? What about the famous chocolate chip?


Our love of chocolate started back in 1828 when a dutch chemist Johannes Van Houten came up with a way of separating the fat (cocoa butter) from the ground cocoa beans. This provided cocoa powder which tasted a lot better than the whole bean. Soon enough people were coming up with ways to mix the powder with milk and make chocolate bars and the first bar (swiss of course) was sold in 1875.


        Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean. These seeds are found in pods that grow on the trunk and

lower branches of the cacao tree. This tree is native to the Amazon and Brazil but is cultivated in many tropical climates today. The pods take about 6 months to develop and cocoa can be harvested about twice a year.


        Now that you know where it comes from, you might be wondering how chocolage ends up as a

candy bar. First the pods are harvested, fermented and dried. (gourmet chocolates use coca that is dried

using a natural process that takes 7 days, the mass produced chocolate is not and the difference is in

the taste!).


        The powder is pressed to extract the cocoa butter then it is blended back together with other

ingredients to make the chooclate. Other ingredients include sugar and cocoa liquor. If the desired result

is milk or white chocolate, milk or milk powder are also added.



        Today, we have 3 basic types of chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate. Each is made with slightly different ingredients but the most important ingredient is the cocoa powder. If you have ever eaten gourmet chocolates, you will notice the difference in taste than that of a regular candy bar and this is because the mass produced chocolate contains little cocoa solids. In fact mass produced chocolate is made with inferior ingredients and the experience of eating it can not be compared to that of fine gourmet chocolates they cost more but are well worth the money!


        One favorite use of chocolate is the chocolate chip which can be used in anything from cookies to brownies or eaten as is! The

 chocolate chip has an interesting history which dates back to 1930 when it was "invented" for use in toll house cookies by Ruth Wakefield. Wakefield was the owner of The Toll House Inn in Whitman Massachusetts and baked the meals for the guests herself. She was quite renowned for her cookies and one day while she was baking, a missing ingredient forced her to substitute broken up semi sweet chocolate bars for bakers chocolate. The result was chocolate chip cookies!


        Once the cookies were invented, they became so popular that it was only a matter of time before the chocolate chip as a product was born. You see, the bar that Wakefield used as a substitute was given to her by Andrew Nestle and he struck a deal with her to print the recipe on the back of the package in return for a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate!


        But it wasn't until 1939 that the chips were packaged as we know them. Prior to that Nestles printed the recipe on the package of the bars and even included a little chopper so that people could use them to make the cookies easily.


        Lee Dobbins is a writer for Online Gourmet Foods where you can find out more about gourmet foods and chocolate.

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