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Definition: chocolate from Philip's Encyclopedia

Like cocoa, chocolate was originally a drink (introduced to Europe in the 1500s) produced from the seeds of the tropical tree Theobroma cacao. The seeds are beans contained in an elliptical pod, and do not have the flavour or colour of chocolate until they have been fermented and roasted. The beans are then ground up to make chocolate powder. The first chocolate bar was produced in the late 1700s.


Summary Article: chocolate from The Columbia Encyclopedia

general term for the products of the seeds of the cacao or chocolate tree, used for making beverages or confectionery. The flavor of chocolate depends not only on the quality of the cocoa nibs (the remainder after the seeds are fermented, dried, and roasted) and the flavorings but also on a complex process of grinding, heating, and blending. The chocolate liquid formed in an intermediate stage is used in the confectionery trade as a covering for fruits, candies, or cookies, or the process may be continued and the resulting smooth mass of chocolate molded, cooled, and packaged as candy. It should be hard enough to snap when broken, have a mellow flow when melting, be free of gritty particles, and have a rich, dark color and an aromatic smell and flavor.

A chocolate beverage was known to the Aztecs and through Spanish explorers found (c.1500) its way into Europe; the Maya also made such a drink, perhaps as early as 900 B.C., and may also have used chocolate in prepared food. In 1657 a shop was opened in London where chocolate was sold at luxury prices. It became a fashionable drink; many shops sprang up to become centers of political discussion and grow into famous clubs, such as the Cocoa Tree. Chocolate was first manufactured in the United States at Milton Lower Mills, near Dorchester, Mass., in 1765. About 1876, M. D. Peter of Vevey, Switzerland, perfected a process of making milk chocolate by combining the cocoa nib, sugar, fat, and condensed milk. The United States has the world's largest chocolate-manufacturing industry.

  • See Minifie, B. W., Chocolate, Cocoa and Confectionery (1970);.
  • Beckett, S., Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use (1982);.
  • Brenner, J. G., The Emperors of Chocolate (1999);.
  • Norton, M., Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World (2008).
The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2017

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