History of the chocolate

Origin of the chocolate

The first evidences of the human use of the cacao come from the Mexican territory, 1.500 B. C. Its consumption was in liquid form, a sort of cold and frothy “beer”, with a ritual function and like invigorating or energizing food.

The cacao seeds were so appreciated that they were used by the Aztecs like currency for the commerce at that time.

From America to Europe

Cristóbal Colon already brought samples of cacao to Reyes Católicos, but it is from the samples that Hernán Cortés carried to Spain, in 1528, from where the history of the chocolate in Europe arises.

In the Spanish Court the ladies of the royalty, began to take this frothy drink, who after were introduced in the highest layers of the European society, thanks to their energizing and stimulating reputation.

Members of religious orders also favoured the distribution of the chocolate in Spain, Italy and France.

XVII and XVIII Centuries; the expansion in Europe

In XVII century, the chocolate was considered a medicine or a food with curative and energizing properties.

In 1606 arrived in Italy and thence happened in Germany in 1646. In 1615 arrived in France thanks to the marriage of the daughter from Felipe III, Ana, with the King Luis XIII. In 1657, it expanded to England.

When Carlos VI, in 1722, moved from Madrid to Vienna, he took the tasting of that cacao drink to the Austrian capital.

The chocolate in XIX century

The artisan elaboration of the chocolate was replaced in 1777 in Barcelona by the mechanics. The Italian Doret was the first in solidifying the chocolate in Turin. The first chocolate factory settled in Switzerland in 1819, whereas the first tablet took place in England around 1847.

The Dutch Conrad Van Houten in 1828 invented a hydraulic press that was able to separate the butter of the cacao paste.

The following milestone was Italian: the invention of the chocolates (bonbon). The chocolate gianduja is of Italian origin and takes its name from the famous Turin mask.

Another great landmark came from Switzerland with the invention of the chocolate with milk by Daniel Peter (1875), thanks to the use of the milky flour (powdered milk) created by Henri Nestlé.

In second half of XIX century, the Swiss invented the process of the conching or homogenising, that would produce a chocolate of greater quality, smoother and that melts in the mouth.

Businessmen like Hershey, Kohler, Lindt, Nestlé, Peter, Suchard and Tobler —familiar names due to certain brands of chocolate— contributed much to this industry, either inventing more effective machinery, or improving the formulas.