All About Chocolate
Chocolate is one of the most popular sweet treats in the world. The average person consumes the equivalent of 10,000 chocolate bars during their lifetime. That’s the same as eating one chocolate bar – dark, milk, or white – every single day for more than 27 years! Even if you do indulge in that much chocolate, do you know your chocolate trivia?
Chocolate is native to South America, but today most of the world’s chocolate – 70 percent – is cultivated in the tropical jungles of West Africa. Ghana is a particularly strong chocolate-producing nation.
The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank a bitter chocolate brew called “xocolatl” or “bitter water.” This type of chocolate was flavored with chili peppers and a range of strong spices.
White chocolate isn’t considered chocolate at all by dietary agencies, because it contains no chocolate liquor and is only cocoa butter and sweeteners. The darker the chocolate, the more liquor it contains.
Chocolate vs. Fruit
Chocolate has many healthy properties, and in fact one plain bar of milk chocolate has more protein than a banana. However, chocolate has far more calories.
The chocolate factory in Hershey, Pennsylvania, produces 33 million of the iconic chocolate kisses every day. Hershey’s kisses also come in a range of flavors, including classic milk, truffle, candy cane, caramel, cherry cordial, peppermint, and more, though many flavors are only available seasonally.
Chocolate is a favorite snack food, and 66 percent of chocolate is actually consumed between meals, whether as a candy bar, small candies, cookies, or other treats.
Cacao beans are the primary ingredient in chocolate, and they are found in the melon-like cacao fruit. It takes approximately 400 beans to make a single pound of chocolate, once they are ground and refined as necessary.
Chocolate has been incorporated into a number of decadent gourmet desserts, including gelato, ice cream, pies, tarts, cakes, and mousses. When chocolate mousse was first invented by French artist Toulouse Lautree, he called it “chocolate mayonnaise” because of its texture, but it quickly became known by the more appetizing name chocolate mousse.
Chocolate truffles are named for their resemblance to the round, rich black truffle mushroom, and gourmet truffles can be nearly as expensive as those exotic mushrooms. Truffles come in many flavors, from nuts and liqueurs to creams, fruits, and unusual gourmet blends.
Chocolate syrup was the prop used to simulate blood in the famous 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho because it was the proper consistency and had a good visual contrast for filming.
Recent studies have highlighted chocolate’s health benefits, including the high level of antioxidants in dark chocolate and the stress relieving effects of eating chocolate. When eaten in moderation – just a bite or two a day – chocolate can be a healthy addition to any diet.
Chocolate in Space
Chocolate has been part of the rations for every manned spaceflight for both American and Russian astronauts because of its popularity and nearly universal appeal.
Ancient Aztecs used cacao beans as money, trading them for other foods, goods, and services. When it was discovered by Europeans and imported to Europe, chocolate was so valuable that for many years it was only available to royalty.
Chocolate and Nuts
Chocolate manufacturers use 40 percent of the world’s almond supply and 20 percent of the peanut supply when creating chocolaty confections. Nuts and chocolate pair well together, and chocolate is often used with hazelnuts, walnuts, and other nuts as well.
Despite being low in cholesterol and healthy in moderation for humans, chocolate is toxic and can be fatal to pets, even in small amounts. The theobromine in chocolate is the deadly ingredient that is part of the cacao bean, and dark chocolate has a higher amount of this toxic chemical.
Despite the persistent belief about chocolate affecting one’s complexion, research has proven that chocolate has no impact on acne. In fact, it is believed that diet has very little to do with acne, and the skin condition should not be treated by any particular menu or dietary changes.
From chocolate bars to exotic truffles to fluffy cakes to creamy ice creams, more than $7 billion is spent on chocolate every year. That’s one impressive treat!Interested in more chocolate? Try making chocolate tuxedo strawberries and sharing your chocolate trivia with others!