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Ka'kau' to Chocolate

God of Cacao:
The word cacao originated from the Maya word Ka'kau', as well as the Maya words Chocol'ha and the verb chokola'j "to drink chocolate together". Chocolate was consumed as a bitter beverage 4000 years ago by the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica. A frothy chocolate drink was brewed by fermenting, roasting, and grinding cacao into a paste and then mixing with a water, honey, vanilla, chili, and other spices. Olmec, Mayan and Aztec civilizations found chocolate to be an invigorating drink, mood enhancer and aphrodisiac, which led them to believe that it possessed mystical and spiritual qualities. This was especially seen through Mayan worship of the God of Cacao.  
Sweet secret 
The Spanish conquest in the 1500s for gold and silver in Mexico by Hernán Cortés resulted in the discovery of chocolate by the Spaniards who returned to their motherland with their new-found treasure. The Spanish sweetened the bitter Mayan drink with sugar cane and cinnamon. Chocolate as we know it was a guarded Spanish secret until the marriage of the daughter of Spain’s King Phillip III to French King Louis XIII in 1615. The Spanish love for chocolate was inevitably shared with France and eventually resulted in European powers establishing cacao and sugar plantations in colonized equatorial regions. 

Modern era of chocolate 
Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten in 1828 invented the cocoa press, which revolutionized chocolate-making and ushered in the modern era of chocolate. Until then chocolate was a delectable symbol of luxury, wealth and power. The first edible chocolate bar was made in 1847 by a British chocolate company J.S. Fry & Sons, by combining cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar. In 1876 the Swiss Daniel Peter formulated the first commercial milk chocolate recipe. The conching machine invented by a Swiss inventor Rodolphe Lindt in 1879 enabled the production of chocolate with a velvety texture and superior taste that continues to be used worldwide. The first white chocolate bar debuted in 1930 in Switzerland.


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