Chocolate - History and Production
Chocolate is a food that is popular all over the world. It is made from the seeds of the cacao tree. It can be eaten and also used as a flavour in ice cream, candy and other foods. Many people like the taste of chocolate and those who work hard eat it to give them energy.
History of chocolate
Chocolate originally came from Mexico and Central America. Historians think that the Maya took the wild cacao trees from the rainforest and planted them in their own gardens. They crushed the seeds and mixed them with water and spices to make a hot drink.
Chocolate and cacao were very important for the Mayan culture. Families drank a hot chocolate drink at special occasions and at parties.
The Aztecs, a people who lived centuries later, used cacao beans as a form of money. They traded other valuable goods to get them because they didn’t grow there. Only the rich people had the money to buy cacao and drink hot chocolate.
In the 16th century Spanish explorers brought cacao back to Europe, where the drink became popular quickly, especially among kings, queens and noblemen. Other European powers began to plant cacao trees in their own colonies.
During the Industrial Revolution new technologies were able to make the production of cacao cheaper, so that poorer people could also afford it. In the 19th century the beans were pressed together with butter and mixed with sugar into a new form, chocolate.
Today the biggest chocolate producing countries are the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and France.
How cacao grows
Cacao trees grow in the tropical regions of South America, Africa and Asia. The biggest cacao bean producers are the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia and Brazil. The cacao tree can grow to a height of 7 metres. After about 5 years the cacao trees produce large fruits. When the fruit is ripe it can contain 20 to 40 seeds.
How chocolate is made
After the cacao seeds are harvested they are transported to factories, where they are cleaned and dried. The outer parts of the seeds are removed.
Workers then roast the beans to give them a certain flavour. The seeds of the cacao beans have a lot of fat in them. They are grinded and mixed together with butter to form cocoa butter.
Beans from the cacao tree
A dry powder can be made by pressing fat and water out of the cocoa butter. This powder is used for baking and also mixed with hot milk to drink.
Chocolate bars are made by putting sugar and milk into the cocoa butter. This paste is then put into different kinds of moulds.
Chocolate making is a big business. More than five billion dollars worth of cacao beans are sold every year. Americans, for example, eat five kilograms of chocolate every year.
Value of Chocolate
Chocolate has a lot of calories but it also has carbohydrates, fats, and other vitamins and minerals. It can give you a lot of energy that you need to do sports or hard work.
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- addicted = if you are not able to stop doing something
- afford = to have enough money to buy something
- amount = quantity
- bar = in the shape of a block
- bean = small seed
- billion = a thousand million
- blood pressure = the force or power with which blood travels through your body
- business = industry
- cacao = the seed from which chocolate is made
- cancer = very dangerous illness in which cells in a part of your body grow in a way that is not normal
- carbohydrate = a substance in bread, potatoes and sugar; it gives your body heat and energy
- century = a hundred years
- certain = special
- contain = hold , have in them
- crush = to break something into many small pieces
- disease = illness
- especially = above all
- explorer = someone who travels to an unknown place to find out more about it
- flavour = the way a type of food tastes
- goods = products
- grind = to break something into many small pieces
- harvest = collect, bring in
- height = how high something is
- historian = someone who is interested in or studies history
- Maya = a civilization that lived in Central America up to about 900 A.D.
- mould = a container that has a special shape ; you pour liquid or another soft material into it so that it takes on the shape
- nobleman = a person who belongs to the highest social class and normally has a title
- obesity = when someone is very very fat
- occasion = time, event
- originally = at first
- paste = cream
- plant = put into the ground
- popular = liked by many people
- powder = a substance that is made up of very small particles
- power = here: country
- reduce = to make lower
- remove = take away
- ripe = fully grown and ready to eat
- roast = to heat in an oven
- scientist = a person who is trained in science
- seed = small hard object that is inside plants
- spice = a type of powder or seed that you take from plants and use to give food a special taste
- technology = methods and ways of making something
- tooth decay = when your teeth became bad
- trade = deal with ; to give something in exchange for something else
- valuable = expensive, costly
- value = importance