Chemistry of Chocolate

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Chocolate is made from the cacao bean. According to Rodney Lipson, “Cacao has been a cultivated crop for at least three thousand years, probably quite a bit more. The people who first utilized Cacao were the inhabitants of what is now Venezuela” (Lipson) This group of people would eventually spread the cacao bean in northwestern South America. Cacao was clearly highly valued by these people and they spread it northward through trade with their neighbors. It was probably the Maya, over 1500 years ago, who brought Cacao to Yucatan in what is now Mexico. The Aztecs who got Cacao from the Maya, used Cacao in a number of ways, one common way was as a bitter spice in food and possibly also as a base for pasta or bread, but the most well-known way that Cacao was as a drink. While the Maya drank Chocolate hot, the Aztecs seem to have often taken it cold. The Aztecs called the drink, and apparently the bean as well, Xocoatl. From this word comes the pan-European word Chocolate. When Europeans first made contact with the Aztec civilization, Cacao was being cultivated and used extensively. The Spanish Conquistadors quickly noticed the benefits of Chocolate and used it to keep their armies marching long distances with little food. From the Aztecs the Spanish took it to Europe. Chocolate was widely used in Catholic countries after 1569 when Pope Pius V declared that Chocolate, the drink, did not break the fast, despite the hearty nutritional aspects of Chocolate” (Lipson). Chocolate continued to be moved from country to country through trade and exploration. Soon chocolate found its way into America, and according to Lipson, “In 1900 Milton Snavely Hershey, a Mennonite from Pennsylvania, began producing milk-chocolate bars and "kisses" with great success. He was anti-alcohol and saw Chocolate as a good, profitable alternative. His empire grew even larger during World War I, when Milton Hershey encouraged the US Army to add four Hershey bars to each soldiers daily ration”...
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