1. Why is July 7, 1550, an important day in the history of chocolate?
2. Is chocolate considered a vegetable...yes or no?
3. Is white chocolate considered "real" chocolate?
4. Where is the cacao bean native to?
5. What was the first chocolate treat?
6. Which French Queen loved hot chocolate? (hint: She also liked cake.)
How are you doing so far?
7. What weird thing was the prized cacao bean used for?
8. What religious group helped to spread the chocolate love?
9. Who invented the first solid chocolate treat?
10. Are cocoa and cacao the same thing?
11. How many cacao beans does it take to make a pound (.45 kg) of chocolate?
12. How old can cacao trees live?
13. Who grows the most cacao?
And here's a special bonus question.
14. At what temperature does chocolate melt?
1. The 7th of July, 1550 is believed to be the day that chocolate arrived in Europe. Whether or not that is the official date, isn't 100% certain. But it is known that it arrived in Europe sometime in the 16th century. Some experts believe that it arrived as early as 1504, thanks to the travels of Christopher Columbus.
2. Chocolate is, indeed, a vegetable. Well, sort of. "Milk and dark chocolate come from the cacao bean, which grows on the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), an evergreen from the family Malvaceae (other members of the family include okra and cotton). This makes the most important part of the sweet treat a vegetable."
3. That would be a no. "Because it doesn't contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, white chocolate isn't chocolate in the strict sense. But it does contain parts of the cacao bean—mainly cocoa butter."
4. The cacao bean is native to Mexico, as well as both Central and South America. "It’s believed that inhabitants of these areas first started cultivating the bean as far back as 1250 BCE, and perhaps even earlier." No wonder chocolate tastes so good! It's been around a long time and humans have had plenty of time to perfect it! And thank goodness for that!
5. Believe it or not, hot chocolate was the first treat to be made from chocolate. "Cacao was brewed in both Mexican and Aztec culture, though the result was nothing like today’s hot chocolate—it was a typically bitter concoction that was often used for ceremonial occasions like weddings."
6. The answer is Marie Antoinette. Marie didn’t just love cake, she also loved chocolate, and hot chocolate )the modern kind). This delicious beverage was frequently served at the Palace of Versailles. It wasn’t just the taste everyone loved—it was also believed that the drink was an aphrodisiac.
7. Cacao was once used as currency. "The Aztecs loved and valued the cacao bean so highly that they used it as currency during the height of their civilization." I can see that, can't you? So maybe it's not so weird after all. If you've ever bought good-quality cacao beans, you know how expensive they are...kind of like buying gold!
8. Spanish friars are given credit for this. "After cacao and chocolate were introduced to Europe, traveling Spanish friars took it to various monasteries, handily spreading it around the continent."
9. Two British confectioners invented solid chocolate. "The Fry and Sons shop concocted what they called “eating chocolate” in 1847 by combining cocoa butter, sugar, and chocolate liquor. This was a grainy, solid form of the treat." It was a long time between the discovery of chocolate, hot chocolate, and then solid chocolate that could be turned into an infinite number of yummy pleasure. As a matter of fact, the British invented the first chocolate bar. "Way back in 1842, the Cadbury company made the very first chocolate bar. The company is still in existence, and is perhaps most famous for its delightful Easter-themed treats."
10. The answer is yes....and no. The cocoa bean and cacao bean are the same things in general terms only. "The botanical name for the tree that chocolate comes from is Theobroma Cacao. The word cacao comes from the Olmec people who inhabited what is now Mexico, and it is believed to be the closest pronunciation to the original name of the plant. While cacao refers to cacao beans that have not been roasted, what is called cocoa is made from beans that have been roasted. So, in turn, a product that is labeled cacao is the raw bean and is often packaged as vegan chocolate that has been minimally processed with no additives. Cocoa, on the other hand, is a processed chocolate product, such as chocolate bars and powder." Be sure and check the label to make certain you're buying what you want.
11. Each tree produces approximately 30 pods a year. Each pod contains roughly 40 cacao beans. It takes approximately 500 beans to make 1 pound of chocolate so each tree produces about 2 pounds of chocolate a year.
12. They can live to be 200 years old!
13. While cacao has its roots in the Amazon, today "nearly 70 percent of the world’s supply—comes from Africa. The Ivory Coast is the largest single producer, providing about 30 percent of all the world’s cacao."
14. Chocolate is the only edible substance to melt around 93° F, just below the human body temperature. That’s why chocolate melts so easily on your tongue (and mine, too!)
Well, how'd you do? I got about half of them correct. Not too shabby for a frog, if I do say so. I hope you enjoyed my Salute to Chocolate. How to celebrate this most auspicious day? By eating chocolate, of course! I'm going to find a way to incorporate it into each of my meals today. Yum!
Tomorrow is National Cat Day so if you're a cat lover, or know someone who is, then you won't want to miss my celebration of cats. Until tomorrow, happy chocolate-eating!