Chocolate— a sweet, smooth, decadent treat that just about everyone around the world has tried. The Maya were the first to fall hard under the chocolate’s spell, the Spanish kept their hot chocolate recipe a national secret for almost a hundred years, and today you can find chocolate shaped postage stamps! But what do you really know about this divine treasure? Keep on reading to learn 50 sweet facts about Chocolate.
Fact 1: There are around 1.5 million cocoa farms in West Africa alone.
- With this figure in mind, it’s no surprise to hear that 70% of all cocoa comes from West Africa.
Fact 2: You would need 400 cocoa beans to produce one pound of chocolate.
- Cacao beans are dried and fully fermented seeds of ‘Theobroma cacao’, from which cocoa solids and cocoa butter can be extracted.
Fact 3: The United States’ founding father, Benjamin Franklin, once sold chocolates in his print shop in Philadelphia.
- Franklin was a writer, printer, political philosopher, oh and he helped draft the Declaration of Independence!
Fact 4: If you were to lay out all the Toblerone bars that were sold in 1 year in a line, you would have a 62,000-kilometre-long line of chocolate – in other words a pretty massive chocolate bar.
- Toblerone is a Swiss chocolate bar known for its distinctive triangular shape.
Fact 5: A single cacao tree produces approximately 2,500 beans.
- Cocoa beans are the basis of chocolate, and Mesoamerican foods including tejate, a pre-Hispanic drink that also includes maize.
Fact 6: Cacao leaves can move 90 degrees, from horizontal to vertical.
- They do this to get enough sunlight and to protect the younger leaves that are growing below.
Fact 7: Chocolate was used as money in the ancient Maya civilization.
- Nearly 200 pieces of Mayan artwork depicts cacao beans being used to pay tributes and taxes.
Fact 8: The price of cocoa can fluctuate daily, affecting the farmers’ incomes on a daily basis.
- It’s important to note that the average cocoa farmer will make between $1,400-$2,000 profit a year, which is about $5 a day at most, this money needs to be spread equally to support the large families of these farmers.
Fact 9: A few living cacao trees are already over 200 years old.
- But most of these trees only give marketable cocoa beans for the first 25 years of their life.
Fact 10: It was the taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus who gave the cacao tree its name ‘Theobroma Cacao’.
- This means “food of the gods” when translated into Latin.
Fact 11: The average size of a cocoa farm in West Africa is around 7 to 10 acres.
- A single cocoa farm is usually operated by a whole family living nearby or on the farm.
Fact 12: Milky Way candy bars were not named after the galaxy.
- The name came from the malted milkshakes, whose flavour they originally intended to mimic.
Fact 13: It’s possible to enjoy your favorite chocolate bar in moderation while still maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.
- Studies have shown that one of the major saturated fats in chocolate does not raise cholesterol like other hard fats.
Fact 14: Cadburys’ ‘Wispa Gold Wrapped Bar’ is “The World’s Most Expensive Chocolate Bar” with a price tag of $1,430 per bar.
- It was designed as a marketing campaign to relaunch their brand of caramel chocolate bars, but this expensive version is actually wrapped in an edible gold leaf.
Fact 15: Mesoamericans have been cultivating cacao since nearly 2000 BCE and the bean originally had value as the basis for a mildly alcoholic drink.
- Later, a frothy, nonalcoholic drink similar to hot chocolate was developed.
Fact 16: The average serving of milk chocolate has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee.
- An average 8 oz. glass of chocolate milk has 2 to 7 mg of caffeine.
Fact 17: On average, a cacao farmer can lose up to 30% of their crop each year.
- The main reason for this is because the trees are really delicate, and they need the perfect environment to grow and develop in.
Fact 18: Cote d’Ivoire is the single largest producer of cocoa in the world.
- The country produces roughly 40% of the world’s chocolate supply.
Fact 19: Chocolates are made from the seeds of a fruit tree.
- A farmer must wait around four to five years for a cacao tree to produce its first beans.
Fact 20: Chocolate is one of the most popular food types and flavours in the world.
- A lot of chocolate-based food exist, particularly desserts, including cakes, puddings, mousse, chocolate brownies, and chocolate chip cookies.
Fact 21: There are 40-50 million people around the world who depend on cocoa farming for their livelihood.
- Since Fair Trade agreements have been established, farmers have been respected more and they do receive better payments.
Fact 22: Spanish royalty included cacao cakes in their dowries.
- Dowry refers to the money, goods, or estate that a woman brings to her husband or his family in marriage.
Fact 23: The Aztec king Montezuma drank nothing but 50 cups of liquid chocolate a day from a golden chalice.
- The king mixed the chocolate drink with honey and spices.
Fact 24: The first cocoa beans were brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus in 1502.
- However, Columbus went to his grave 4 years later in 1506 not realizing the great implication of these beans, which he described as “almonds.”
Fact 25: It will take you 2-4 days to make a single chocolate bar.
- The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavour. After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is then removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then grounded into a cocoa mass, which is unadulterated chocolate in rough form.
Fact 26: After Hernando Cortez sent King Montezuma’s ‘liquid chocolate recipe’ to Spain, the recipe became a national secret for almost a century.
- However, if you look at the statistics today on how much chocolate people in Spain eat, you’ll find that they eat very little in comparison to other countries… So, the interest in chocolate has somewhat declined in recent years, despite their efforts centuries ago to keep their precious recipe a secret.
Fact 27: Chocolate contains 2 doses of cocoa butter.
- Aside from the natural amount of cocoa butter, from the cocoa bean, an extra dollop of cocoa butter is often added to bump up the chocolate’s creaminess.
Fact 28: In 1579, an English pirate ship captured a Spanish vessel, which was filled with cocoa beans, and was on its way back to Spain.
- The pirates burned the entire ship and its cargo because they were under the impression that the cacao beans were sheep droppings.
Fact 29: “Cacao” is how you say “cocoa” in Spanish.
- However, both words are interchangeable.
Fact 30: Every November 11, Germans celebrate the feast of St. Martin by taking part in a lantern-lit parade, eating sweets and drinking steaming hot chocolate.
- The most famous legend concerning St. Martin was that he had once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the latter from the cold.
Fact 31: Chocolate is toxic for dogs and cats.
- Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. Dogs and cats cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine, unlike humans.
Fact 32: Champagne and sparkling wines are too acidic to pair well with milk or dark chocolate.
- Instead, you should try pairing a sweet bubbly with white chocolate, and red wine with dark chocolate.
Fact 33: The German chocolate cake was named after chocolate maker, Sam German.
- German developed a sweet bar for the Baker’s Chocolate company in 1852.
Fact 34: White chocolate is not real chocolate.
- White chocolate lacks chocolate solids and is made with a blend of sugar, cocoa butter, milk products, vanilla, and a fatty substance called lecithin.
Fact 35: Cacao was brewed in both Mexican and Aztec culture.
- It was a typically bitter concoction that was often used for ceremonial occasions like weddings.
Fact 36: The French celebrate April Fool’s Day with fish-shaped chocolates, or “Poisson d’Avril.”
- To celebrate the end of Lent, and the beginning of Easter, it is customary to give fish as a gift to people. When the tradition of jokes became linked to April Fool’s Day, it became common for people to give each other fake fish as a joke.
Fact 37: Marie Antoinette loved her steaming cup of hot chocolate.
- Hot chocolate was frequently served at the Palace of Versailles. It was also believed to be an aphrodisiac.
Fact 38: July 7 is World Chocolate Day.
- It’s a nod to when chocolate was first brought to Europe during the 1550’s.
Fact 39: In 1847, J.S. Fry and Sons created the very first solid chocolate.
- They combined cocoa butter, sugar, and chocolate liquors.
Fact 40: July 28 is also the annual National Milk Chocolate Day.
- Milk chocolate is usually made from dark chocolate, of low cocoa solid content, sugar, plus a milk product.
Fact 41: French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte was head over heels in love with chocolate.
- The French leader demanded that wine and chocolate be made available to him and his senior advisers during intense military campaigns
Fact 42: Dr. James Baker and John Hannon founded their chocolate company in 1765.
- Their company was later called the Walter Baker Chocolate.
Fact 43: In 2013, Belgium created a limited edition chocolate-flavoured postage stamps.
- Only 500,000 of these stamps were created and they came in batches of 5 stamps.
Fact 44: One of the first Easter eggs made by Cadbury’s was created in 1875.
- They looked fairly similar to what we have today, plain chocolate and smooth on the outside. The difference being, inside there were ‘dragees’, which are small chocolate drops… sounds mouth-wateringly good!
Fact 45: Chocolate has a unique melting point.
- The melting point of chocolate depends on its contents, but it is generally between 30–32℃.
Fact 46: Chocolate has over 600 volatile aroma compounds.
- Most of what registers to us as a chocolate smell comes from compounds that, surprisingly, smell nothing like cocoa.
Fact 47: Eating dark chocolate every day reduces the risk of heart disease by ⅓.
- Interestingly, the smell of chocolate causes an increase in theta brain waves, which triggers a feeling of ‘relaxation’.
Fact 48: Candy bars generally have less than 10 milligrams of caffeine.
- Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has a whopping 31 milligrams of caffeine, almost as much as a can of Coke.
Fact 49: Thorntons created the world’s largest chocolate bar for the establishments 100th birthday.
- The colossal chocolate bar weighed a record-breaking 5,792.50 kilograms.
Fact 50: M&Ms were created in Newark, New Jersey, in 1941, during the Second World War.
- The chocolate treats were created as a means for soldiers to enjoy chocolate without it melting onto their hands.