Christopher Colombus was the first
European to see the cocoa bean, but it was overlooked in favour of
the many other treasures he found in The New World. Later, the
explorer Hernando Cortez brought 3 chests of cocoa beans back to
Spain. The Spaniards kept chocolate a secret for nearly a century,
and they set up cocoa plantations in their foreign colonies.
"With the decline of Spain as a power, the secret of
cacao leaked out at last, and the Spanish monopoly of the chocolate
trade came to an end. In a few years the knowledge of it had spread
through France, Italy, Germany and England."
At first, chocolate was considered a beverage for the
rich - no one else could afford to drink it, as it was literally
like drinking money.
The name chocolate has come from the Aztec word,
Chocolate was made into a drink by adding water and
sugar to the beans, and then heating. It was only used as a drink
in this way, even after cocoa powder was invented by a Dutchman,
Conrad van Houten, in 1828.
It took another 20 years before J.S. Fry invented a
solid form of chocolate that could be eaten. The Swiss invented
solid milk chocolate by adding condensed milk.
American chocolate has a slightly smokey taste, as
the Latin American cocoa beans they use are dried over smokey
fires. English chocolate is made from African cocoa beans, which
Chocolate is a good source of instant
energy. Bushwalkers and mountain climbers carry chocolate bars for
this reason. An Australian hiker survived for weeks in freezing
conditions in the Himalayas, thanks only to the energy of a few
A chocolate bar is a source of carbohydrate, milk
proteins, as well as Calcium, Phosphorous, Potassium and