Interesting Facts and Information about Chocolate
Chocolate captures the imagination of so many people worldwide and even has a day dedicated to celebrating it. On top of that, humans have been consuming it for thousands of years.
There are so many interesting facts and pieces of information about chocolate and this article will explore the ones I find most interesting.
If you love chocolate, I’m sure you’ll enjoy a few of these yourself.
The top 10 chocolate facts
1. Chocolate comes from a fruit
Chocolate could theoretically be described as a fruit. Sounds ridiculous, but chocolate is made from the seeds found inside a fruit (cocoa pod), grown on a cacao tree.
The seeds straight from the pod are actually very soft with a tangy but sweet tropical fruit flavour.
2. The cocoa tree is called ‘Food of the Gods’
The cocoa tree is actually called Theobroma Cacao, which translates as ‘food of the gods’. It was named by Swedish natural scientist Carl Linnaeus.
3. Humans have been consuming chocolate for up to 5300 years.
Cocoa or cacao has been consumed in one form or another for up to 5300 years. It was possibly consumed as a hot beverage by the ancient Mayo-Chinchipe people in Santa Ana-La Florida, now Ecuador. This is according to recent research where they carbon dated residue found on pottery.
-Codex Mendoza (c. 1541), shows the tribute extracted by the Aztecs from the cacao-growing region of Soconusco, southern Mexico.
4. Cocoa beans were once used as money
Cocoa beans were once so highly prized that they were traded as a currency by the Aztec and Maya civilisations.
Hernan Cortès wrote in a letter to King Charles V of Spain “this seed was being used as currency for daily exchanges”.
They were exchanged for basic items like clothes and food. A rabbit could be bought for 30 beans, an egg for 3 beans and a tomato for 1 bean.
5. Cocoa beans were a gift from the gods
Cocoa beans were so sacred to the Ancient Mayan and Aztec people that they believed it was handed down to them by the gods. They even held a yearly festival to honour the cacao God Ek Chua.
6. Melted chocolate is actually dry
Chocolate is incredibly very dry and that is why it seizes up if any water gets into it when melted. It acts similarly to flour, as in it gets stiff and clumpy if any moisture is added.
7. 70% of the worlds cocoa comes from just a few countries in West Africa
West Africa produces 70% of the world’s cocoa, with Ivory Coast and Ghana providing half the world’s supply alone.
8. Chocolate takes about 2-4 days to make
It takes a chocolate maker about 2-4 days to make a chocolate bar out of cocoa beans. The whole chocolate making process, from the cocoa pod to a chocolate bar, takes around 2 weeks.
9. Chocolate may contain insects
Chocolate may contain bugs up to an average of 8 insect parts par bar. However, most foods contain contaminants and it is deemed completely safe to eat by nearly every country.
10. 10kg of chocolate could kill a human
It is the Theobromine in chocolate that is poisonous to dogs and in fact 10kg of chocolate could kill a human.
- There are so many Toblerone’s sold each year that if you laid them down end to end it would be longer than the circumference of the Earth at 62,000 km (38,525 miles).
- The world’s largest chocolate bar at 5,792kg was created by the company Thornton’s to celebrate its 100th
- The biggest chocolate sculpture ever created was a 10 foot high Easter egg weighing 4,484 lbs. (2,034 kg) in Melbourne, Australia.
Chocolate and Health
- Dark chocolate surprisingly has been shown to help people lose weight. Unlike milk or white chocolate, small amounts of dark chocolate supresses your appetite.
- Dark chocolate is proven to be beneficial to your heart and blood circulation and actually lowers the risk of heart disease by a third. It lowers blood pressure, thins the blood and restores flexibility to the arteries.
- Dark chocolate is the healthiest type of chocolate, but also the most bitter. It is the antioxidant Flavanoid that makes it so bitter and therefore it is the bitterness that makes it healthy.
A popular saying in Thailand describes it perfectly, “Bitter is Medicine”.
- The smell of chocolate increases the theta brain waves, which in turn triggers relaxation.
- Chocolate improves your mood by releasing serotonin and increasing endorphin levels in the brain.
Extra Chocolate Facts
- World Chocolate Day or International Chocolate Day is celebrated on the 7th of July.
- It is believed that over one billion people eat chocolate every day.
- The global chocolate market was valued at USD 103.28 billion in 2017.
- Some people don’t consider white chocolate to be real chocolate. This is because it doesn’t contain any of the solids from the cocoa bean, but just uses the fat (cocoa butter).
- Chocolate is the only food that melts at just below body temperature 32C (90F), that’s why it melts on your tongue.
- Europe consumes nearly half of the world’s chocolate with each Brit, German and Swiss eating 11kg of the sweet stuff each year.
- There is actually a recently invented fourth variety of chocolate, Ruby chocolate. It is pink in colour with a fruity raspberry flavour.
- Chocolate has over 600 flavour compounds compared to wine that has 200.
- Chocolate has a shelf life of over a year and in fact many bean to bar chocolate makers age their chocolate for up to 6 months before selling it.
- It is thought that more than twice as many women eat chocolate than men.