History of Chocolate: A Timeline
History of Chocolate: A Timeline

2000 BC, Amazon: Cocoa, from which chocolate was created, was said to have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago.

Sixth Century AD: Chocolate, derived from the seed of the cocoa tree, was used by the Maya Culture. Maya called the cocoa tree cacahuaquchtl … ‘tree’, and the word chocolate came from the Maya word xocoatl which means bitter water.

1200, Aztec Culture: The Aztecs attributed the creation of the cocoa plant to their god. In both the Mayan and Aztec cultures cocoa was the basis for a thick, cold, unsweetened drink called xocoatl… believed to be a health elixir. Since sugar was unknown to the Aztecs, different spices were used to add flavor, even hot chili peppers and corn meal were used!

Aztecs believed that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cocoa tree, and it had nourishing, fortifying, and even aphrodisiac qualities. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma drank thick chocolate dyed red. The drink was so prestigious that it was served in golden goblets that were thrown away after only one use.

1502, Columbus landed in Nicaragua: On his fourth voyage to America, Columbus landed in what is now called Nicaragua. He was the first European to discover cocoa beans being used as currency, and to make a drink, as in the Aztec culture.

1513, A slave was bought for Beans: Hernando de Oviedo y Valdez reported that he bought a slave for 100 cocoa beans. It was at this time, the name of the drink changed to chocolatl from the Mayan word xocoatl and the Aztec word for water, or warm liquid.

1519, Hernando Cortez began a Plantation: Hernando Cortez conquered part of Mexico had a vision of converting the beans to golden doubloons. While he was fascinated with Aztec's bitter, spicy beverage [he didn’t like the cocoa drink], he was much intrigued by the beans’ value as currency. Later, Cortez established a cocoa plantation in the name of Spain.

1528, Chocolate Arrived in Spain: Cortès presented the Spanish King, Charles V with cocoa beans from the New World and the necessary tools for its preparation. And no doubt Cortès taught him how to make Chocolate.

1544, Dominican Friars Got into the Swing: Dominican friars brought a delegation of Mayans to meet Philip. Spanish monks, who had been consigned to process the cocoa beans, finally let the secret out. It did not take long before chocolate was acclaimed throughout Europe as a delicious, health-giving food.

The beans were still used as currency. 200 beans bought a turkey cock. 100 beans was the daily wage of porter, and would buy a hen turkey or a rabbit. 3 beans could be traded for a turkey egg, a new avocado, or a fish wrapped in maize husks. 1 bean bought a ripe avocado or tomato.

1657, even London succumbs: London's first chocolate shop was opened by a Frenchman. London Chocolate Houses became the trendy meeting places where the elite London society savored their new luxury. The first chocolate house opened in London advertising "this excellent West India drink."

1674, Eating solid Chocolate was introduced in the form of chocolate rolls and cakes, served in chocolate emporiums.

1704, The Germans imposed a Tax on Chocolate: Chocolate made its appearance in Germany, and Frederick I of Prussia reacted by imposing a tax. Anyone wishing to pay homage to its pleasures had to pay two thalers for a permit.

1765, First Chocolate factory in the USA: The production of chocolate proceeded at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world. It was in pre-revolutionary New England.

1800, Chocolate was an Industry: Antoine Brutus Menier built the first industrial manufacturing facility for chocolate.

1819, the pioneer of Swiss chocolate-making, Francois Louis Callier, opened the first Swiss chocolate factory.

1828, The Cocoa Press was invented by Conrad Van Houten: The Press helped to improve the quality of the beverage by squeezing out part of the cocoa butter. Drinking chocolate had a smooth consistency and a more pleasing taste.

1830, The Drink Became a Confection:
Solid eating chocolate was developed by J. S. Fry and Sons, a British chocolate maker.

1849, Cadbury Brothers Exhibited Chocolate: The exhibition was at Bingley Hall at Birmingham, England.

1851, Marked a First for Americans: Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert orchestrated The Exposition in London. It was the first time citizens of the United States were introduced to bonbons, chocolate creams, hard candies (called "boiled sweets"), and caramels.

1875, Milk Chocolate Came of Age: After eight years of experimentation, Daniel Peter from Switzerland put the first milk chocolate on the market.

1879, Chocolate Literally Melts in Your Mouth: Rodolphe Lindt of Berne, Switzerland, invented "conching", a means of heating and rolling chocolate to refine it. After chocolate has been conched for 72 hours and more cocoa butter added to it, chocolate became "fondant" and melted in mouth!

1913, A new Star is Born: Jules Sechaud of Montreux of Switzerland introduced the process for filling chocolates.

1923, The CMA was established: The Chocolate Manufacturers Association of the United States of America (CMA) was organized.

1925, Cocoa is Big Business: The New York Cocoa Exchange, located at the World Trade Center, was begun so that buyers and sellers could get together for transactions.

1938, World War II:
The U.S. government recognized chocolate's role in the Allied Armed Forces. It allocated valuable shipping space for the importation of cocoa beans which would give many weary soldiers the strength to carry. Today, the U.S. Army D-rations include three 4-ounce chocolate bars. Chocolate has even been taken into space as part of the diet of U.S. astronauts.