December 28th is National Chocolate Candy Day in the United States. It should come as no surprise that chocolate candy is one of the most popular treats in the world. Approximately 12 pounds of chocolate is consumed by Americans annually. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, seeds of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). Cocoa beans are roughly 50% cocoa butter and 50% chocolate liquor. The word chocolate is Spanish, derived from the Aztec word xocolatl or chocolatl, which means bitter water. Cacao has been harvested for at least 3,000 years and grows in Mexico, throughout Central America and South America, and Africa. About two-thirds of the world's cocoa comes from West Africa, with 43% coming out of Côte d'Ivoire. The earliest documentated uses of cacao date back to around 1100 BC.
Various processing methods produce several types of chocolate:
Milk chocolate - which contains powdered or condensed milk, and contain at least 20% cocoa solids.
White chocolate - consisting of cacao fat or cocoa butter, milk solids, and carbohydrate sweeteners, but does not contain any cocoa solids to give a dark color.
Dark chocolate - made by adding fat and sugar to the cocoa. The FDA classifies this as "sweet chocolate" and requires at least 15% chocolate liquor. High cocoa solids mixtures produce more bitterness. Semisweet, dark chocolate has low sugar content. Bittersweet chocolate has more chocolate liquor, higher sugar content, and vanilla is added.
Unsweetened - pure chocolate liquor known as bitter or baking chocolate.
Some Chocolate Factoids:
-The first box of Whitman’s boxed chocolate was made in 1842.
-British chocolate company J.S. Fry & Sons combined cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and sugar to make the first chocolate bar in 1847.
-Mass production of chocolate started in 1879 with Rodolphe Lindt's conching machine.
-Chocolate Easter eggs were made in the early 19th century. J. Cadbury introduced his first chocolate egg in 1875.
-Hershey debuted the first milk chocolate bar in 1900.
-The Hershey's kiss was invented by Milton Hershey in 1907, and the signature foil wrapper came along in 1924.
-Hershey made chocolate ration bars for troops during WWII the U.S. Army.
How much chocolate candy will you eat to celebrate National Chocolate Candy Day?