The chocolate story begins around 3500 years ago
Around 3500 years ago, the lowlands of the Mexican Gulf Coast were inhabited by the first civilized people of the Americas, the Olmecs. As one of their most important gods, they worshiped a "were-jaguar," a figure that was half man and half jaguar. Scientists assume that the Olmecs planted cacao trees on the fertile soils of their homeland and possibly made the first precursors of today's chocolate.
“A drink for pigs”
At the latest around 400 BC, however, this culture was no longer of significance. The Mayas and Aztecs took their place and continued to cultivate cacao. At times it was a popular currency, but more than anything else it was valued as a drink. The famous Aztec ruler Montezuma is said to have been virtually addicted to his "cacahuatl": Legend has it that he drank more than 50 cups a day.
However, the cocoa drink of yore was not comparable with cocoa as we know it today. The Mayas and Aztecs drank it unsweetened, which is said to have prompted the Italian botanist Benzoni to declare after his voyage to Mexico in the 16th century that it was "more a drink for pigs, than a drink for humanity”.
A success story based on sugar
After the discovery of America by Columbus in 1492, chocolate found its way to Spain in the early 16th century, eventually spreading throughout Europe via Italy and France. Although Columbus himself had already brought cacao beans to Spain, his compatriots had shown no regard for the foreign fruit. The bitter drink obtained from it was too repugnant for their palate. It was only with the addition of honey and cane sugar that chocolate developed its charm.
Gradually, it began to establish itself as a sought-after drink at the Spanish royal court and among the nobility, before finally becoming celebrated as a national drink. However, it was not until the middle of the 18th century that the first chocolate factory was founded in Bristol (England) by Joseph Fry.
From bean to cocoa
In the land of milk and honey, there would surely be entire avenues of chocolate trees too. In reality, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as planting a milk-chocolate-with-nuts tree or a dark-chocolate tree, and then harvesting them regularly. One particular tree, though, does play a prominent role in chocolate-making: the cacao tree.
Development and manufacturing of the chocolate
When it comes to processes such as mixing and rolling, hardly anyone would think of anything as fine and delectable as chocolate. But chocolate-making is a highly technical, labor-intensive matter - and a demanding one at that. Get a glimpse into production at our chocolate factory.