chocolate | Definition, History, Types, Production, & Facts | Britannica

Browse Search Quizzes Games On This Day Subscribe Now Login Entertainment & Pop Culture Geography & Travel Health & Medicine Lifestyles & Social Issues Literature Philosophy & Religion Politics, Law & Government Science Sports & Recreation Technology Visual Arts World History Quizzes Games Podcasts On This Day Biographies Week In Review Topic Summaries Infographics Demystified Lists #WTFact Companions Image Galleries Spotlight The Forum Entertainment & Pop Culture Geography & Travel Health & Medicine Lifestyles & Social Issues Literature Philosophy & Religion Politics, Law & Government Science Sports & Recreation Technology Visual Arts World History Britannica Classics
Check out these retro videos from Encyclopedia Britannica’s archives. Britannica Explains
In these videos, Britannica explains a variety of topics and answers frequently asked questions. Demystified Videos
In Demystified, Britannica has all the answers to your burning questions. This Time in History
In these videos, find out what happened this month (or any month!) in history. #WTFact Videos
In #WTFact Britannica shares some of the most bizarre facts we can find. chocolate Sections & Media Encyclopedia Article Introduction History of chocolate Production of chocolate Expand Media Videos Images Additional Info Additional Reading More Articles On This Topic Contributors Article History Home Entertainment & Pop Culture Food

chocolate

food Print print Print Please select which sections you would like to print: Cite verified Cite While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. Select Citation Style MLA APA Chicago Manual of Style Copy Citation Share Share Share to social media Facebook Twitter URL https://www.britannica.com/topic/chocolate More Give Feedback External Websites Feedback Thank you for your feedback

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! External Websites Britannica Websites Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. chocolate - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11) chocolate - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up) WRITTEN BY Naomi Blumberg See All Contributors Naomi Blumberg was Assistant Editor, Arts and Culture for Encyclopaedia Britannica. She covered topics related to art history, architecture, theatre, dance, literature, and music. Last Updated: Jun 4, 2021 See Article History Observe the preparation of chocolate Easter bunnies Learn how chocolate Easter bunnies are made. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article Learn why the presence of Theobromine molecule in chocolates is toxic to dogs Why chocolate is bad for dogs. © American Chemical Society ( A Britannica Publishing Partner ) See all videos for this article

chocolate , food product made from cocoa beans , consumed as candy and used to make beverages and to flavour or coat various confections and bakery products. Rich in carbohydrates , it is an excellent source of quick energy, and it also contains minute amounts of the stimulating alkaloids theobromine and caffeine .

liquid chocolate Liquid chocolate at a candy factory. © areafoto/Fotolia Top Questions

Where did chocolate originate?

The history of chocolate can be traced back more than 3,000 years to the Maya, Toltec, and Aztec people who prepared a beverage from the fruit of the cocoa bean. The Maya considered chocolate to be the food of the gods, held the cacao tree to be sacred, and buried dignitaries with bowls of chocolate.

What chemicals are in chocolate?

Chocolate is rich in carbohydrates, which is an excellent source of quick energy. It also contains minute amounts of chemicals as the stimulating alkaloids known as theobromine and caffeine.

When was cocoa powder invented?

In 1828, C.J. van Houten of the Netherlands patented a process for pressing much of the fat, or cocoa butter, from ground and roasted cocoa beans, thus obtaining cocoa powder.

Who first added sugar to chocolate?

In 1847 the English firm Fry and Sons first combined cocoa butter with chocolate liquor and sugar to produce sweet chocolate. It became the base of most chocolate confectionery used today.

Is white chocolate real chocolate?

White chocolate, though prized for its rich texture and delicate flavor, is technically not chocolate. It is made from cocoa butter with added milk products, sugar, and flavorings such as vanilla.

History of chocolate

The cacao tree was cultivated more than 3,000 years ago by the Maya , Toltec , and Aztec peoples, who prepared a beverage from its fruit, the cocoa bean (sometimes using it as a ceremonial drink) and also used the bean as a currency. The Maya considered chocolate to be the food of the gods, held the cacao tree to be sacred, and even buried dignitaries with bowls of the substance (along with other items deemed useful in the afterlife). In fact, the identification of the ( Olmec -originated) word ka-ka-w (“cacao”) inscribed on those containers was key to deciphering the Maya’s phonetic manner of writing.

Spain was the earliest European country to incorporate chocolate into its cuisine, but exactly how that happened is vague. It is known that Christopher Columbus took cocoa beans to Spain after his fourth voyage in 1502, though little was made of it at that time. It has been commonly thought (though there appears to be no evidence) that in 1519 Montezuma II , the Aztec ruler of Mexico, served a bitter cocoa-bean drink to the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés , who subsequently introduced the drink to Spain. A strong possibility is that chocolate first arrived in Spain in 1544 with representatives of the Kekchí Mayan people of Guatemala , who came bearing gifts (including chocolate) to visit the court of Prince Philip . However, it was not until 1585 that the first recorded shipment of cocoa beans arrived in Spain from Veracruz , Mexico . Sweetened and flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla , chocolate was served as a hot beverage and became quite popular in the Spanish court. It was many years before chocolate had its introduction to France , England , and beyond.

engraving of an Aztec with cocoa beans and chocolate beverage “American with his chocolate pot and goblet,” an engraving of an Aztec with cocoa beans and chocolate beverage, from a French history of chocolate, tea, and coffee, 1685. From Traitez Nouveaux and curieux du café du thé et du chocolate , by Philippe Sylvestre Dufour, 1685

In 1657 a Frenchman opened a shop in London at which solid chocolate for making the beverage could be purchased at 10 to 15 shillings per pound. At that price only the wealthy could afford to drink it, and there appeared in London , Amsterdam , and other European capitals fashionable chocolate houses, some of which later developed into famous private clubs. In London many chocolate houses were used as political party meeting places as well as high-stakes gambling spots, notably Cocoa-Tree Chocolate-House (later the Cocoa-Tree Club), which opened in 1698, and White’s, which was opened by Francis White in 1693 as White’s Chocolate-House. About 1700 the English improved chocolate by the addition of milk . The reduction of the cost of the beverage was hampered in Great Britain by the imposition of high import duties on the raw cocoa bean, and it was not until the mid-19th century, when the duty was lowered to a uniform rate of one penny per pound, that chocolate became popular.

Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Subscribe Now

Meanwhile, the making of chocolate spread overseas and grew in sophistication. Chocolate manufacture started in the American colonies in 1765 at Dorchester, Massachusetts , using beans brought in by New England sea captains from their voyages to the West Indies . James Baker financed the first mill, which was operated by an Irish immigrant, John Hanan. Waterpower was used for grinding the beans. In the Netherlands in 1828, C.J. van Houten patented a process for pressing much of the fat , or cocoa butter , from ground and roasted cocoa beans and thus obtaining cocoa powder. In 1847 the English firm of Fry and Sons combined cocoa butter with chocolate liquor and sugar to produce sweet (eating) chocolate—the base of most chocolate confectionary—and in 1876 Daniel Peter of Switzerland added dried milk to make milk chocolate. The proliferation of flavoured, solid, and coated chocolate foods rapidly followed.

Production of chocolate

Discover the art of making Belgian chocolates and truffles in a cooking class Learn how Belgian chocolates are made. Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Mainz See all videos for this article

Chocolate is made from the kernels of fermented and roasted cocoa beans. The kernels are ground to form a pasty fluid chocolate liquor, which may be hardened in molds to form bitter (baking) chocolate, pressed to reduce the cocoa butter content and then pulverized to make cocoa powder , or mixed with sugar and additional cocoa butter to make sweet (eating) chocolate. The addition of dried or concentrated milk to sweet chocolate produces milk chocolate .

Know about the MIT Laboratory for Chocolate Science dedicated to the science, history, politics, and economics of chocolate Overview of the Laboratory for Chocolate Science, a student activity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). © Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( A Britannica Publishing Partner ) See all videos for this article

White chocolate, prized for its rich texture and delicate flavour, is technically not a chocolate. White chocolate is made from cocoa butter with added milk products, sugar, and flavourings such as vanilla.

Nathan Myhrvold

Learn More in these related Britannica articles:

cooking: Pre-Columbian civilizations chocolate , a food product made from the beans of the cacao tree, domesticated 3,000 years ago in what is now Honduras. Ah Cacau, or Lord Chocolate, a king who ruled (682–734 ce ) the Mayan city-state of Tikal, was named for the prized ingredient. The Maya… cocoa …is the key ingredient in chocolate and chocolate confections.… cocoa: Chocolate products Chocolate products usually require the addition of more cocoa butter to that already existing in the chocolate liquor. The various forms of chocolate are available in consumer-size packages and in large bulk sizes for use by food manufacturers and confectioners. Most European confectioners make their… History at your fingertips Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! Thank you for subscribing! Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. chocolate Quick Facts key people George Cadbury Milton Snavely Hershey related topics Cocoa Food Sponge candy Baking chocolate Dutch process Conching Sugar bloom Fat bloom Sweet chocolate Milk chocolate close Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership
Posted 28 Comments