National Chocolate Day is observed annually on October 28. While there are many specific chocolate related holidays throughout the year, National Chocolate Day celebrates all things chocolate. As America’s favorite flavor, chocolate is well deserving of its own day of honor and celebration. (Some sources designate July 7 or December 28 as Chocolate Day or International Chocolate Day.)
How is chocolate made?
Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia, is grown in Mexico, Central America and Northern South America. The earliest known documentation of using cacao seeds is from around 1100 BC. The cacao tree seeds have a very intense, bitter taste that must be fermented to develop the flavor.
Once the seeds have been fermented, the beans are dried, cleaned and roasted. After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The cacao nibs are then ground into cocoa mass, which is pure chocolate in rough form. The cocoa mass is usually liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients. At this point in the process, it is called chocolate liquor. The chocolate liquor may then be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
- Unsweetened baking chocolate – cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions.
- Sweet chocolate – cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat and sugar.
- Milk chocolate – sweet chocolate with milk powder or condensed milk.
- White chocolate – cocoa butter, sugar and milk but no cocoa solids.
Research has found that chocolate, when eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure.
- It takes 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate.
- Each cacao tree produces approximately 2,500 beans.
- Research to date supports that chocolate can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.
- The average serving of milk chocolate has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee.
- Chocolate comes from a fruit tree; it’s made from a seed.
- Benjamin Franklin sold chocolate in his print shop in Philadelphia.
- Spanish royalty gave cakes of cacao in their dowries.
- The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 cups of cacao a day from a golden chalice.
- The French celebrate April Fool’s Day with chocolate-shaped fish, or “Poisson d’Avril.”