Sunday, December 17, 2006

History of Chocolate: Now and Then

The sweet history of Chocolate can be traced back to thousands of years. Ancient people brewing the seeds of the cacao tree into a yummy beverage was the beginning of the wide assortment of chocolates that we enjoy today. Once chocolate was discovered by European conquests, it became a treat only the wealthiest could afford. Sugar and spices used to sweeten it were expensive too and out of the common man's reach. It was in the 1800's that the industrial age and mass production made chocolate candy affordable for everyone.

As chocolate candy became more popular and accepted worldwide, more companies were established, and many others disappeared shortly after. In the United States, the pioneer was Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, founded in 1852. Ghirardelli chocolate was the first American brand.

Milton S. Hershey founded the Hershey Chocolate Company after visiting the Columbian Exposition. Hershey sold his former Lancaster Caramel Company, but retained the rights to produce American chocolate products. Hershey chocolate was just the beginning of one of the most successful business in the United States.

Along with Lindt Chocolates, Nestle chocolate, Ghirardelli chocolate, and Hershey chocolate, Mars is the other brand of chocolate candy sharing the top five as producer of some of the World's Finest Chocolates.

Different brands from different origins, the top chocolate candy brands are manufactured in America, preferred by consumers for about one hundred years, and ahead of other chocolate products distributed or produced in the United States, a nation that exports today the World's Finest Chocolates all over the world.

Chocolate candy became a big hit in stores in the form of the candy bar. It took its place proudly on the general store shelf next to the gum drop, hard candy and candy cane bins of the day. From that meager beginning, the varieties available today are mind boggling. Chocolate candy is available in many different flavors, shapes and with limitless ingredients. Some ingredients such as nuts and fruits are complimentary to the flavor and texture of the chocolate and left whole or diced inside the candy bar. Spices and other flavorings are also added to enhance the chocolate or add interesting flavor notes. Some people can taste a story in their chocolate candy. The flavor medley tells them through their tongue what region of the world each ingredient came from. Travel by chocolate!

Chocolate can also be enjoyed either inside a candy coating or as a coating itself over other yummy treats such as ice cream.