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At One Time Chocolate Was Used As Money

(merfam@Flickr)

Our annual stop at Buffalo’s famous Broadway Market is courtesy of Kelly’s Country Store. Each year you can get their famous Easter candy at both their Grand Island location and at the Broadway Market. All of their creations are from Kelly’s famous chocolate recipe and molded into 500 different shapes for Easter including rabbits, chicks, cats, dogs, alligators, turtles, chocolate pizzas, computers, telephones. It’s fun to just see all the different shapes.

Who were the first to use chocolate? The history takes us back to the Mayan Indians of central Mexico where cacao trees grew wild. Cacao beans were used as money. You had to be careful because counterfeiters occasionally would sneak in a few carved out of clay. Mayans also created a chocolate drink out of cacao beans and used it in marriage ceremonies and in baptisms.

The way they made it isn’t much different from the way it’s made today. Cacao beans are fermented and dried, roasted and ground into a paste along with hot water and spices like vanilla, honey, even chili. Then poured back and forth between two containers.

But you have to remember that cacao was actually money so it was only the rich that got to enjoy the flavor of chocolate. Emperors had jars of chocolate buried with them.

One important difference between the chocolate the Mayans drank and what we know chocolate to be today – sugar. If you’ve ever tried baker’s chocolate – it smells great, but it’s very bitter.

In the 1850s, Englishman Joseph Fry added cocoa butter to a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar to create the first solid chocolate.

  • In 1875, the first milk chocolate bar was created when Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle added condensed milk to solid chocolate.
  • By 1907, Milton Hershey’s factory in Pennsylvania was producing millions of candy kisses a day.
  • Soldiers in both World Wars I and II got chocolate as part of their rations.
  • Today chocolate is a $35-billion industry.

 

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