Food Facts about CHOCOLATE!


Dark, milky or white, Chocolate is nowadays part of the western daily (?) diet. And if so many people actually can’t stop eating it, it’s because of its magical attraction. How can something so small detains so much power over us? What other secrets does it holds? What is even Chocolate at the end?  Discover our surprising Food Facts about Chocolate!

Aztec and Mayan origins of Chocolate

The ancient Maya are believed to be the first people to regularly grow cacao trees and drink chocolate. While Cacao is a Maya word meaning God food, the word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to the bitter, spicy drink the Aztecs made from cacao beans. During Aztecs and Mayans times, cacao was a common offering as it was considered to be the drinks of gods: cocoa was crushed to form a paste, then mixed with blood from the person doing the offering (he pierced his tongue or ear for that purpose). Cocoa was so important in both mesoamerican civilizations, that the beans were used as a currency.

Chocolate as An Aristocratic Beverage

A century ago, chocolate was still a mostly unknown taste for the population. After having been brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus, chocolate was in fact consumed as a liquid, not a solid, for 90% of its history. It was considered as a medecine, served in a really small cup with a lot of spices (such as cinnamon, chili) and water, and reserved for the rich people. It’s only the progress in industry that allowed chocolate to be solid and more spread among the population.

Wondering why every other language say “cacao” but English? Fun fact : it is thought that the word ‘cocoa’ has come about through a miss-spelling of ‘cacao.’

The magical properties of Chocolate

  • Over 600 flavor compounds: A recent analysis found that the individual aroma molecules in roasted cacao beans can smell of everything from cooked cabbage to human sweat to raw beef fat. Together, more than 600 of these flavor compounds melt together in just the right combination to yield the taste and scent of what we all call chocolate, according to Peter Schieberle, a food chemist at Munich Technical University and director of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry. That’s three times more flavor compounds than red wine…
  • Killing cats&dogs: Theobromine, the compound in chocolate that makes it poisonous to dogs and cats, can kill a human as well. You’d have eat a lot though as an average 10-year-old child would have to eat 1,900 Hershey’s miniature milk chocolates to reach a fatal dose.
  • Feeling happy? Chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine that releases certain “pleasure” endorphins in the brain, similar to how people feel when they’re in love. It also contains tryptophan, which influences the levels of endorphins in the human brain and increases the production of serotonin, which leads to elevated states of euphoria.
  • Protect your heart : Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that can exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cell-protective effects, says Giana Angelo, Ph.D., a research associate in micronutrient research (Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University). Consuming foods rich in flavonoids has also been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Do you eat dark chocolate every day? If so, you’re effectively reducing the risk of heart disease by one third.
  • Forget about yoga : Chocolate’s scent increases theta brain waves, which induce relaxation. This is mainly why people feel better about their problems after eating loads of it.
  • There is a little caffeine in chocolate. Most bars have about 10 milligrams of caffeine in them, but darker chocolates can have as much caffeine as a can of Coca-Cola.
  • Chocolate is the only edible substance that melts under 37°C, that’s why it melts in the mouth. Cocoa butter melts at just below average body temperature and therefore it is easily desolved into the skin, making it the ideal foundation in moisturising creams and other such products.

Produced in Africa, Eaten in Europe and America

    • Africa rules : More than two-thirds (more than 66%) of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa, and Côte d’Ivoire alone produces 33% of the world’s supply. Ghana (just under 21 per cent) and Indonesia (almost 14 per cent) come next.
    • Europe <3 Chocolate : Americans consume about half of all of the world’s chocolate (although they’re not first on a per capita basis), which weighs in at more than three billion pounds. According to the International Cocoa Organization, Europeans still come in at about 40% of the planet’s chocolate consumption. They estimate the average Brit, Swiss, or German eat 11kg of chocolate a year.
    • The Brussels Airport is the biggest chocolate seller in the world, as vendors there sell more than 800 tons of chocolate every year.



Cocoa Products and transformations

  • White chocolate isn’t chocolate : in order to be classified as real chocolate, a product has to contain cocoa solids or cocoa liquor. White “chocolate” contains cocoa butter instead.
  • There is a rare fourth kind of chocolate in addition to the classic milk, dark, and white varieties: blond chocolate.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie : In 1930 Ruth Wakefield realised she was out of baker’s chocolate and mixed broken piece of Nestle chocolate into her cookie dough, expecting the chocolate to be absorbed and create chocolate cookies. Instead, she accidentally created chocolate chip cookies, and sold her cookie recipe to Nestle in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate.
  • M&Ms were conceived in 1935 when Forest Mars and Bruce Murrie discovered that spanish soldiers were coating their chocolate piece with sugar to prevent them from melting.
  • Snickers holds the top spot for the bestselling chocolate bar in the world. Made by Mars, Incorporated, Snickers has annual global sales of $2 billion. The peanut, caramel and chocolate bar was named after the Mars family’s favorite horse when it was introduced in 1942.
  • Nutella was invented by an italian pastry, Pietro Ferrero, who after WWII used hazelnuts from Piemont, its region, to extend his poor stock of cocoa.

You want MORE fun facts about Chocolate?

  • The blood in Psycho’s famous shower scene was actually chocolate syrup.
  • At one point the Nazis plotted to assassinate Winston Churchill with an exploding bar of chocolate.
  • Every Russian and American space voyage has included chocolate bars.
  • Studies have shown the impact of color on taste. Thus, the same chocolate beverage would appear more appetizing in an orange or cream cup than in a white or red one.
  • Research published last year showed a high correlation between a nation’s chocolate intake and the number of Nobel Prizes it wins.
Now you can still eat it, but do you see it the same way after those Food Facts about Chocolate? Like this series? Tell us in the comments what you want to know about next!
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