Happy World Chocolate Day! In celebration of this most delicious holiday, let’s brush up on our chocolate knowledge.
There are multiple celebrations of chocolate each year
July 7 is World Chocolate Day, a nod to when chocolate was said to have been first brought to Europe on July 7, 1550 (though a number of sources argue that it might have hit the continent’s shores as far back as 1504, thanks to Christopher Columbus). Official day or not, we do know that chocolate first arrived in Europe some time in the 16th century. There’s also National Milk Chocolate Day on July 28, International Chocolate Day on September 13, and, of course, National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day.
White chocolate is not chocolate
Because it doesn't contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, white chocolate isn't chocolate in the strict sense. But it does contain parts of the cacao bean—mainly cocoa butter.
The cacao bean is native to Mexico and both Central and South America
There's even evidence that humans in what is now Ecuador were consuming cacao products around 5000 years ago.
Hot chocolate was the first chocolate treat
Cacao was brewed in both Mexican and Aztec culture, though the result was nothing like today’s hot chocolate—it was a typically bitter concoction that was often used for ceremonial occasions like weddings.
Marie Antoinette loved hot chocolate (the modern kind)
Marie Antoinette didn’t just love cake; she also loved chocolate, and hot chocolate was frequently served at the Palace of Versailles.
Cacao was once used as currency
The Aztecs loved and valued the cacao bean so highly that they used it as currency during the height of their civilization.
Spanish friars helped spread the love
After cacao and chocolate were introduced to Europe, traveling Spanish friars took it to various monasteries, handily spreading it around the continent.
A pair of British confectioners invented solid chocolate
The J.S. Fry & Sons shop concocted what they called “eating chocolate” in 1847 by combining cocoa butter, sugar, and chocolate liquor. This was a grainy, solid form of the treat.
Cadbury invented the heart-shaped box of chocolate
If you ever needed to pick up a last-minute Valentine's Day gift from a gas station, now you know whom to thank.
It's said that Napoleon loved the stuff
The popular story is that Napoleon was known to carry chocolate with him on military campaigns for an energy boost.