THE HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE : WHERE DOES IT COME FROM ?
"Chocolate is, of course, the stuff that dreams are made of. Rich, dark, silky-smooth dreams that unsettle the senses and arouse the passions." - Judith Olney.
It's no secret that chocolate has been an integral part of our lives for generations. The history of chocolate and its origins go back thousands of years. Its shape and taste captivate our senses, and for many of us it's impossible to part with it after a long day.
In Greek mythology, cocoa beans purified the soul and guided the dead to the afterlife. Nowadays, we love chocolate, savouring it on our own after a meal or with friends and family on special occasions such as Easter or Valentine's Day... But do we really know its history? Where does it come from? How did it come into our hands? A look back at the birth of an essential human pleasure.
WHERE DOES THE WORD "CHOCOLATE" COME FROM ?
To get back to the origins of chocolate, it's important to look at the meaning of the word. "Xocolatl" or "chocolatl" comes from Nahuatl, the ancient Aztec language, and means "bitter water, acid water". Chocolate was once used in religious rituals, and the Aztecs consumed it mainly as a drink, grinding the cocoa beans and mixing them with water, herbs or spices.
The first traces of cocoa were found in pottery as early as 1500 BC. Over time, the product became a currency of exchange and by 600 BC, three civilisations were using the virtues of the cocoa tree: the Aztecs, the Mayans and the Olmecs.
It wasn't until 1502 that Europe heard about cocoa for the first time, when Christopher Columbus travelled to the island of Guanaja. At that time, the navigator was offered the drink "xocolalt", which he did not appreciate at all. 26 years later, in 1528, it was another Spanish navigator, Hernan Cortes, who this time decided to bring cocoa beans back to the King of Spain so that he could discover the Aztec drink. For Charles V, King of Spain at the time, there was no doubt: Spain had to produce and market cocoa. As time went by, the drink became very popular with the Spanish aristocracy and clergy, and the European chocolate boom began.
THE INDUSTRIALISATION OF CHOCOLATE
More than a century later, in 1778, the first industrial machines saw the light of day: the hydraulic machine, the cocoa paste mixer and the grinding machine made it possible to significantly increase the quantity of chocolate produced, and to make the product accessible to all social classes.
Chocolate factories sprang up all over Europe in the 19th century, and the first artisan chocolate makers appeared in Switzerland, Holland, France and England. In 1828, Coenraad Johannes Van Houten registered a patent for chocolate powder, and became the first person to separate lean cocoa from cocoa butter. In 1879, Rodolph Lindt, a Swiss chocolatier, developed a technique known as conching, in which cocoa paste is kneaded in vats to refine and homogenise it.
This method is still used today by all chocolate makers. It was during this period that the first chocolate brands we know were created: Côte d'Or in Belgium, Nestlé, Lindt and Milka in Switzerland, and Poulain in France. The first chocolate giant was born in 1929 after the merger of Nestlé and Cailler, and chocolate has been with us ever since!
FAUCHON has been offering its customers exceptional chocolates for 137 years, combining expertise and finesse. The aim remains the same: to awaken the senses and bring pleasure to consumers of FAUCHON chocolate. Pascal Caffet, Meilleur Ouvrier de France and World Pastry Champion, and his entire team work throughout the year with quality ingredients to achieve excellence.