The origin of the word « chocolate » composed by « choco »: noise and “alte”: water, would come from Aztec words “tchoco” and “lattle” which mean the noise made by the chocolate beater man when he stirs the drink in the chocolate pot with a winch.
Chocolate is made from the fruits of the cocoa tree. It is a tree growing in humid and hot countries. The flowers give big fruits: the cocoa beans. They are gathered then broken in two parts to remove the beans, then they dry under the sun light. They are put in canvas bags and shipped on boats. They travel over the seas to arrive at plants. At the chocolate fabric, the roasted and crushed beans give the paste and cocoa butter.
Issued from tropical forests from Central America, the cocoa tree was raised by Mayas and Aztecs. These people liked this food which was consumed as a drink called “chocolatl” (bitter water).
This drink was made from cocoa beans (cacahuatl) roasted and crushed on burning stones. The obtained paste was heated then mixed with water; vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, anise, etc… could be added.
This drink was known for being nutritious, fortifying and aphrodisiac.
Mayas and Aztecs used cocoa as exchange money.
Payments of taxes and purchases of slaves were made with cocoa beans.
THE CONQUISTADORES AGE
In 1502, during a stop in Nicaragua, Christoph Colomb caught only a glimpse of the cocoa beans aboard an indigenous pirogue but he did not take any care of these “almonds”.
The real value of this “brown gold” will only be revealed by Hernan Cortès who after tasting it with the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, brings it back with him to the Spanish Royal Court in 1528 with the accessories required for manufacture.
SPAIN’S FASHION IN COCOA :
The Spanish Emperor and his court delighted this drink and added honey. At this time, the cocoa monopole was reserved to Spanish.
They kept the cocoa secretely and refused to reveal its existence to the rest of the world.
It is in 1585, that the cocoa trade started to develop on the Iberian Peninsula with the 1st official cargo coming from New Spain.
The first chocolaters’ appear where this nectar can be tasted.
COCOA IN THE REST OF EUROPE :
1594 : Appearance of cocoa in Italia thank to a navigator, Francesco Carletti, who come back from America with the secret of its manufacture.
1641 : Introduction of cocoa in Germany by a scientist of Nuremberg, Johann Volckammer who brought it back from Naples.
1657 : Chocolate appears in England; three years later, the English raise cocoa trees in their Jamaican colonies. Adopted by the snobs of that time, its use quickly increases. The “Cocoa tree” club became one of the most famous clubs in the world, arousing lot of publications on this new subject.
At the same time, the Dutch, in good navigators and traders, rapidly realized the interest of these cocoa beans and soon took care of the transport from America to Europe.
Dans le même temps, les Hollandais, en bons navigateurs et commerçants, se rendirent vite compte de l’intérêt des fèves de cacao et en assurèrent bientôt le transport d’Amérique en Europe.
CACAO iN FRANCE :
1615 : Thank to the royal wedding of Louis XIII with the Spanish princess Anne of Austria, the chocolated drink appears in the French Court. The Queen rapidly shared her addiction to chocolate with her Court. Alphonse de Richelieu, Cardinal’s brother and archbishop of Lyon, considered the chocolate as “a mean to moderate the vapours of his spleen and fight against hanger and bad mood.
1659 : Louis XIV, by licensed letter grants for 29 years, David Chaillou, a Queen’s officer from Toulouse, “the exclusive privilege to make, sell and produce a special composition called chocolate”. David Chaillou owned a shop at l’arbre sec’ street in Paris. At that time, the chocolate was mostly known and appreciated by the Court, religious people and doctors.
1661 : Louis XIV gets married with Marie-Therese of Austria who loved chocolate so much that it was said on her purpose: “King and chocolate are the two Queen’s passions”.
And that is how was born the chocolate myth.
1693 : End of David Chaillou’s monopole; the chocolate was then produced by a great number of apothecaries and spice sellers.
1732 : Mr. Dubuisson brings a first improvement to the technique of chocolate making by creating a horizontal heating table.
Then the production is getting better thanks to Mr. Doret who creates a hydraulic machine to crush the cocoa and change it into paste
1770 : Creation of the first French company of Pelletier’s chocolates and teas. But we had to wait until 1776 King Louis XVI grants the right to commercialize chocolate.
In the second half of the XIX century, we saw chocolater’s multiply not only in France but also abroad. However, France was highly penalized by taxes on cocoa and sugar. At the beginning of the XX century, France which was the first importer of cocoa, became only the forth.
The world conquest of chocolate is mainly due to its capacity of transformation. The first chocolate pastilles are English (1674), the first cocoa in powder is Dutch (1828), the bar is an English creation (1830) and milk chocolate then with hazelnuts mark Switzerland coming on the chocolate market (1830-1875).
MAIN PRODUCERS COUNTRIES :
Nowadays, 9 countries represent the main cocoa production:
- » Africa: the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.
- » Central and Latin America: Brasil, Ecuador, Colombia.
- » South-East Asia: Malaysia, Indonesia.