History of chocolate
From the cultivation of the cacao tree to the latest developments in the chocolate industry.
The history of chocolate
From the drink of royalty to the favourite of the masses.
“Theobroma cacao” is the cacao tree, which originally comes, like its name, from Central America. “Cacao” was in the vocabulary of the Olmec as long ago as 1000 BC.3,500 years ago they were the first to prepare the original form of drinking chocolate. Later, the Mayas and Aztecs adopted this culture.
Cocoa and advanced civilisations
The dark gold.
The long voyage to the cocoa beans.
In the year 1492, Christopher Columbus set off on his first voyage to find a western sea route to India. He was driven not only by a spirit of discovery but also, above all, by the riches of India and China – spices, silk and gold – which also attracted enough sponsors to back his ambitious plan.
Spain – Hernán Cortés
Conquest made easy.
The Spanish conquest of the American continent was the beginning of the end for the Aztecs. Led by Hernán Cortés, the Spanish allied with the Aztecs' enemy tribes, giving them the greater strength. Nonetheless, it took three years to overthrow the Aztec Empire and its ruler Motecuhzoma II, a process which left the capital (Tenochtitlán) and most of the native peoples' written records and documents almost fully destroyed.
How the cacao tree got its name.
The search for the name of the cacao tree starts out in Sweden, the birthplace of Carolus Linnaeus (the Latinised version of Carl von Linné), a scientist who studied medicine and invented what is known as the system of binomial nomenclature.
Chocolate in Germany
From medicine to children's confectionery.
It was only in the 17th century that chocolate arrived in what was then the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. As in the rest of Europe, it was of course initially reserved for the nobility and royalty.
The chocolate bar
From liquid to solid.
Today, when we talk of chocolate, we mean solid chocolate bars. That's not always been the case. For over 2,000 years, chocolate was mainly known as a drink. The native inhabitants of Central America already drank chocolate, although it tended to be bitter. At the end of the 16th century, the Spanish made the first alteration to their recipe by adding sugar.
Chocolate production over time
From the campfire to the computer.
Chocolate production has always started with the cocoa beans being roasted. The native inhabitants of Central America roasted them in clay vessels over an open fire. The Spanish already used iron pans. In the 19th century, the first mechanised roasting machines were then brought in, with the beans heated over a brazier in a receptacle shaped like a drum or sphere.