www.whyville.net Jan 17, 2010 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Food of the Gods

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Bars, boxes, crinkly wrappers. Who doesn't enjoy a chocolaty treat? Americans eat at least half a pound of chocolate every month! Even if you enjoy chocolate often, how much do you really know about it? I decided to do some research on it.

Let's start off with a quick lesson on the different terms used when talking about chocolate. Chocolate in powdered form is refereed to as "cocoa". Cacao is the plant or beans before processing. Chocolate refers to anything made by those beans, even the affordable treats with less cacao and more sugar and additives in them. Speaking of the word chocolate, it is traced back to the ancient Aztec word "xocoatl", which referred to a bitter drink made from cacao beans. Theobroma cacao is the Latin name for the cacao tree. It means "food of the gods."

Chocolate has always been loved. Cacao beans were used as currency in Latin America for several centuries. The ancient Indian tribes Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao beans had magical properties.

Chocolate wasn't sweetened until Europeans discovered the Americas. After tasting it, the newcomers declared it too bitter to drink. But then they added sugar or honey to it, and it was a whole other story.

Did you know that for 90% of chocolate's history, it was strictly a liquid? How did they make liquid chocolate into a solid? Well, in 1828, after chocolate had been popular for a while in Europe, a Dutch chemist made a discovery. He found out that if you remove about half of the natural fat from the chocolate liquor, you can make powdered chocolate, which became known as Dutch chocolate. This soon led to the creation of solid chocolate. Chocolate bars began with Joseph Fry, who, in 1847, realized that he could create a formable chocolate paste. He did this by adding melted cacao butter back into Dutch chocolate.

Now here is a familiar name: In 1868, a company called Cadbury was marketing boxes of chocolate candy. Nestle (another familiar name) pioneered milk chocolate a few years later.

Now it is time for some interesting facts and statistics on chocolate.

- Americans eat an average of 10-12 pounds of chocolate a year and an average Swiss eats 21 pounds a year.
- Eating a little bit of chocolate can actually make you live longer, according to a medical study.
- Chocolate does not cause acne, according to another study.
- A 1 ounce bar of milk chocolate has only 5-6 mg of caffeine.
- Did you know chocolate can absorb other things? Keep your candy away from household chemicals!
- 3.5 million. That is the number of pounds of whole milk used daily to make chocolate in the U.S.
- Over 5000. That's how many pounds the biggest chocolate bar ever made weighed. It was made in Italy in 2000.
- The largest slab of fudge over 2,000 pounds. It was made in China.
- Chocolate is officially America's favorite flavor (no surprise) according to a survey. A little over half of adults preferred chocolate.

So there you have it! Did you know as much about chocolate as you think you did? Do you know more facts? Are you suddenly craving a candy bar, as I am? Share in the BBS!


Author's Note: Sources: http://www.tinyprints.com/interesting-chocolate-statistics.htm


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