10 surprising chocolate facts

Chocolate been a favourite sweet for eons. It has been used as currency and has even been linked to weight loss (surprised?), reduced heart disease and improved memory.

And while these facts may come as a surprise to you, there are many more things you may not know about chocolate, such as …

1. Easter is not the only time to celebrate chocolate
World Chocolate Day is celebrated on 7 July each year. This marks the first day chocolate was first brought to Europe in 1550 – although this is contentious because some say Christopher Columbus brought it back in 1504.

There’s also National Milk Chocolate Day on 28 July, International Chocolate Day on 13 September and National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day on 7 November.

2. Chocolate is a vegetable (sort of)
Milk and dark chocolate are derived from the cacao bean which grows on a tree, so it could technically be called a vegetable. We probably won’t see it on the healthy food pyramid too soon, though.

3. Cocoa and cacao are the same thing
They are the same thing, but different. Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing raw cacao beans, in a process that maintains the cacao’s living enzymes but removes the fat to make cacao butter.

Cocoa powder is raw cacao that has been roasted at high temperatures. So, while they are the same thing, the end result is very different.

4. The Brits invented solid chocolate
‘Eating’ chocolate was invented in 1847 in a confectionary shop called Fry and Sons, and it was done by combining cocoa butter, sugar and chocolate liquor. It was a solid, grainy form of modern chocolate. But it is also said that the first chocolate ‘bar’ was made by the Cadbury company in England in 1842.

5. Baker’s chocolate isn’t just for baking
It’s all in the name. Dr James Baker and John Hannon founded a chocolate company called Walter Baker Chocolate in 1765, which is where the term ‘Baker’s Chocolate’ comes from. So, it’s not just for cooking.

6. Milk chocolate was made in Switzerland
After eight years of experimentation, Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter created milk chocolate in 1875. Condensed milk ended up being the key ingredient.

7. Cacao trees can live up to 200 years
They may live a long time, but they can only produce the goods (ie, viable beans) for around 25 years.

8. It takes a lot to make chocolate
It takes around 400 cacao beans to make 450g of chocolate. It takes me about four minutes to eat that size of chocolate block. From now on I’ll respect every mouthful!

9. Most chocolate is now grown in Africa
It may have Amazonian roots, but nearly 70 per cent of the world’s supply of cacao beans now grows in Africa – much of which on the Ivory Coast.

10. Why chocolate melts in your mouth
It’s the only edible substance that has a melting point of around 33°C – just below the human body temperature – which is why it melts so easily on your tongue.

Read more facts about chocolate at Mental Floss.

Do you know any other interesting chocolate facts?

Related articles:
Chocolate is good for you
Is chocolate actually addictive?
How to eat chocolate

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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