No matter who you ask, just about everyone loves chocolate. It is one of the most popular sweet treats on Earth. You’ve probably eaten chocolate since you were a kid and never thought much about it. It is so easily accessible in many parts of the world that having a piece of chocolate is a simple thing we don’t think about much. But how much do you really know about chocolate? There is actually a lot of mystery around chocolate that many people don’t realize. Read on to learn 9 fascinating facts about chocolate you probably never knew before.
Chocolate is actually a fruit!
Well, it is not quite a fruit all by itself, but it is close. Chocolate is a part of the Theobroma tree that produces the cacao pods that chocolate is made from. The cacao pods are harvested and the beans are removed, roasted, and ground into the form that we know and enjoy as chocolate.
400 beans are used to make a pound of chocolate.
A lot of cacao beans must be harvested to make just one pound of chocolate. Each cacao pod contains about 40 beans, so this means that farmers must harvest a lot of beans from the Theobroma tree to make as much chocolate as the world enjoys continuously.
The Theobroma tree makes a lot of beans per season.
For every year that they live, a Theobroma tree can produce around 2500 beans each harvest season. This means that each tree can yield about 6.25 pounds of chocolate. This roughly translates into about 33 big chocolate bars. That means a lot of trees are needed to keep the chocolate coming.
Farmers spend a lot of time nurturing these trees before yields are possible.
Each tree takes about four to five years before they are ready to yield cacao pods. This means that farmers must continuously nurture the tree to maturity before they are profitable.
Hot chocolate is the original treat.
The very first treat to contain chocolate was the beverage hot chocolate. It was only available to royalty as it was a very rare and highly exalted delicacy. Once machines were created to produce chocolate on a wider scale, treats and candies made with chocolate were more readily available to the masses.
West Africa produces the most chocolate in the world.
West Africa, or the Ivory Coast, is responsible for 70% of the world’s supply of chocolate. There is a specific taste to chocolate that is produced on the Ivory Coast. It has a muted flavor, that is great for commercial use in coating candy bars.
The chocolate candy bar was first invented in 1847.
Our modern-day concept of the chocolate candy bar was invented in 1847 by Joseph Fry in Britain, along with his son. This original candy bar has grown into an endless array of chocolate candy and treats, with some sort of chocolatey morsel in existence for every kind of taste bud.
White chocolate is not really made from chocolate.
Well, it is not made like the chocolate that we identify as chocolate. It contains cocoa butter, milk, vanilla, and sugar. It is able to remain white by leaving out the key ingredient that gives traditional chocolate its rich, brown color: cocoa liquor. This is why white chocolate has a creamier, lighter flavor than regular chocolate.
Chocolate actually makes you happier.
The act of eating chocolate and the taste of this delicious treat are likely a source of happiness on their own. But chocolate contains compounds that make your brain happy. The amino acids in chocolate release endorphins and serotonin in your brain which create a feeling of happiness.