The Chocolate Craze: All Things Chocolate
What’s one of the most beloved things to eat? One of the most versatile substances in the world? A strong force to be reckoned with when it tempts you?
Why, it’s chocolate of course!
You might love it or hate it, but if you hate it, you might likely still have that ache down deep inside every once in a while (hey, no judgment!). That texture, that flavor, that melty sensation. I couldn’t resist writing about it!
Did you know that chocolate is made from a fruit? Yup, cocoa beans are actually inside of a cocoa fruit like this one:
They look quite strange in relation to what we have come to know and love, but trust me - this colorful ooey-gooey fruit has it in for us.
The Origins Of Chocolate
In 450 BC, the Aztecs began using the seeds from a cocoa fruit to prepare fermented beverages, a shoddy hot chocolate if you will. They believed that they were given these seeds from a god of wisdom, and they were used as a currency for trade. The pulp inside the fruit was sweet, and consumed raw, while the beans were bitter and roasted. Even back then, chocolate was also used as an aphrodisiac, often used in trade for sexual relations and as a medicinal property. It would be mixed with vanilla pods, flowers, and chili peppers.
When Christopher Columbus found this coveted asset by seizing a canoe of the cocoa beans, (not cool Columbus, but thanks!), the Europeans turned it into a mass market commodity and called it the power over a woman. Do you believe that?
Unfortunately, chocolate brought with it a slave market, to keep cocoa plantations in production in keeping with the rising demand. Most of the Europeans slaves were wiped out by disease so these plantations, in turn, kept African laborers by the chain. In 1815, during the Industrial Revolution, the chocolate path changed when alkaline salts were added to reduce bitterness and new machinery was implemented to reduce the cost of production while also experimenting with different forms. These missions were further charged by Rodolphe Lindt and Henri Nestle with the creation of milk chocolate in 1879. Cadbury had entered the game by 1868 in England, and following closely behind came Milton S. Hershey in 1893 where he preached his indulgent chocolate caramels at a world exposition in Chicago.
Now after all that, we still can’t get away from it and personally, I don’t want to! Chocolate has been a comforting friend on a crampy day (yeah I’m talking to you, period!), on a lonely night, or when you simply want to cuddle up with some tea, a book, and your favorite chocolate treat...maybe your cat too.
Chocolate Fun Facts
Now one of the most widely consumed delicacies, with its hundreds of unique uses, the powerhouse called chocolate has taken over the world. And I’m so pleased. Here are some fun things you might not have known before stumbling upon my blog:
- The scientific name of the cocoa tree is literally translated to “food of the gods”
- September 13th is International Chocolate Day (Darn, I just missed it!. But seriously guys, it has it's own day)
- According to one Harvard study, those who eat chocolate regularly live one year longer than those who don’t
- There's more caffeine in one milk chocolate bar than there is in a shot of espresso
- Eating dark chocolate five times a week reduces the risk of heart disease by 57%
- Chocolate milk includes several healthy doses of vitamins and just like normal milk, a high calcium content which improves your muscle and bone strength (it’s even easier to be broken down in a lactose intolerant digestive system than normal milk is! Looking at you, half of the population)
- If you eat 22lbs of chocolate in one sitting, you’ll die. So be careful…
A Medical Marvel
So how come this superb gift is so great for helping your monthly cramps, you ask? Well that’s easy. Chocolate naturally includes magnesium which helps alleviate muscles, and it also contains a fair amount of endorphins - helping us “crazy ladies” keep our mood even amongst the hormonal fluctuation of menstruation. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Added to that, chocolate contains a robust amount of iron. During that time of the month, your iron levels tend to drop because of the….um….you know….expelling of blood…. so having a bit of dark chocolate in your tummy can top your body up with levels needed to combat lethargy. This is because women feel fatigued when iron levels are too low. Just remember that these are temporary symptom relief aids. Eating a lot of chocolate consistently probably wont stop you from having any cramps anymore for the rest of your life (aww shucks, right?). I feel like this is common sense… but you never know. If you want to take advantage of this temporary relief, ensure that the chocolate consumed is at least 60% cocoa.
From the core of the cocoa tree, chocolate has resonated on a global scale through history. It is so deeply rooted in our ancestry that I think I can feel the gods song. Now excuse me while I go scarf down some Halloween chocolates we bought to give out this year...and then replace the box later…like every year past.
If you’re craving something too, give this a try:
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