The History of Chocolate

Over 2,000 years ago the Mayan people were known to have planted cacao trees in South America. Today this area is known as the Amazon rain forests.

Ancient lore told that cacao seeds were taken from Paradise. Wisdom and great powers came from eating the fruit of the cacao tree. The Mayans used the seeds or beans from the tree pods to create a paste. They dissolved this paste into water. They added spices and called this drink xocoat or bitter water. Xocoat was considered to be the drink of elite society. In the 1400s the Aztecs from Central America traded with the Mayans for cacao beans. Their version of this bitter chocolate was called chocolatl and they also used it as a drink.

Chocolate played an important role in Mayan and Aztec religious and social customs. A mug of chocolatl was shared during marriage celebrations to invoke favours from the Gods. These ancient civilizations also used the cocoa bean as part of their monetary system. It was considered a valuable commodity and was used as currency for payment of other goods.

In the early 1500s, Spanish explorers introduced the cocoa bean to Spain. Chocolatl was flavored with vanilla, sugar and cinnamon to create a thick, sweet syrup. Legend has it that Montezuma drank his chocolatl before entering his harem. This appears to be the origin of the long held belief that chocolate is an aphrodisiac.

Chocolatl was a closely kept secret in Spain for over 100 years. Spanish chocolate was the first known Belgian liquid chocolate. In the early 1600s, a Spanish Princess was betrothed to King Louis XIV of France. She gave him a gift of chocolate. This is how cacao was first introduced to the rest of Europe.

The English were said to be the first to open commercial chocolate houses or stores sometime in the mid 1600s. Chocolatl was still used only as a beverage and was very expensive. As with the Mayan & Aztec peoples, it was known only to the upper classes of society. Later in this same century, the world was introduced to the first solid chocolate.

In the early 1800s the first cocoa press was invented. This singular invention drastically reduced the price and improved the quality of chocolate or cocoa butter as it was known. The Industrial Revolution enabled the mass production of chocolate. Cocoa powder was invented 1828. This singular invention paved the way for the general European population to begin enjoying this delicacy.

In the mid 1700s chocolate was first transported to North America. It didn’t become widely popular until almost a hundred years later when people were introduced to the first chocolate creams and confections. Thus began the global infatuation with chocolate as we know it today.

Chocolate has proven its popularity through the ages. Today it is a huge world-wide billion dollar industry with consumption constantly on the rise. Chocolate is available in every calibre, from inexpensive wax like chocolate to the rich, velvety creations of the upscale chocolate houses of the world. It is the single, most popular gift item of our times.

At Cranberry Corners chocolate is the number one product requested for use in our gourmet gift baskets. We even create exclusively chocolate gift baskets. The combinations and varieties of chocolate products available today are endless. Cranberry Corners Gift Baskets convey a statement of quality, good taste and superior design. Our unique gift baskets and sophisticated designs will showcase your good taste. At Cranberry Corners, we have designed each and every one of our gift baskets to perfectly suit your occasion whether it is for Christmas Gift Baskets or new baby gift baskets. We specialize in designing custom gift baskets. We will design a fabulous gift basket especially for you which will represent you with style and pizzazz.