Books and film Chocolate has been the center of several successful book and film adaptations. In 1964, Roald Dahl published a children's novel titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The novel centers on a poor boy named Charlie Bucket who takes a tour through the greatest chocolate factory in the world, owned by Willy Wonka. Two film adaptations of the novel were produced. The first was Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, a 1971 film which later became a cult classic. Thirty-four years later, a second film adaptation was produced, titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The 2005 film was very well received by critics and was one of the highest grossing films that year, earning over US$470,000,000 worldwide.
Chocolate is one of the most popular treats given on holidays. On Valentine's Day, a box of chocolate is given, usually with flowers and a greeting card. It is given on other holidays, including Christmas, Thanksgiving, and birthdays, although no special chocolate creation is common on these holidays. On Easter, chocolate eggs are popular gifts. A chocolate egg is a confectionery made primarily of chocolate, and can either be solid, hollow, or filled with cream.
Chocolate is a product that requires complex procedures to produce. The process involves harvesting coca, refining coca to cocoa beans, and shipping the cocoa beans to the manufacturing factory for cleaning, coaching and grinding. These cocoa beans will then be imported or exported to other countries and be transformed into different type of chocolate products.
The main types of chocolate are white chocolate, milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate. These types of chocolate may be produced with ordinary cacao beans (mass-produced and cheap) or specialty cacao beans (aromatic and expensive) or a mixture of these two types. The composition of the mixture, origin of cacao beans, the treatment and roasting of beans, and the types and amounts of additives used will significantly affect the flavor and the price of the final chocolate.
The cacao tree (Theobroma Cacao) is grown in the tropics in a band between 10 to 20 degrees north and south of the equator, sometimes called the "Cocoa Belt". The tree is often grown in the shades of other trees. It can be as tall as 40 feet (12 meters), and has fruits (pods) which are more than on foot (30 cm) long. The fruits may be brownish-yellow to purple, and contain 20-40 seeds or cacao beans in a pink, sweet-sour pulp. The cacao tree is cultivated in many countries, but today the leading suppliers are Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, Cameroon, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Papua New Guinea. Other well-known manufacturing countries are Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, some Caribbean islands like Grenada and Cuba, and some Pacific islands like Samoa.
Cocoa was given as a dowry when members of the Spanish Royal Family married other European aristocrats. At the time, chocolate was very expensive in Europe because the cacao beans only grew in South America. Sweet-tasting hot chocolate was then invented, leading hot chocolate to become a luxury item among the European nobility by the 17th century. Even when the first Chocolate House (an establishment similar to a modern coffee shop) opened in 1657, chocolate was still very expensive, costing 50 to 75 pence (approximately 10-15 shillings) a pound.
The Spanish explorers were so enamored with the flavor of chocolate that they took it back to Spain where it became the the Kings’ Official Drink in the New Spain and Europe. Around the end of the XVIII century(1780 - 1800) , Europeans started preparing chocolate with milk and sugar to create what we know today as Hot Chocolate. In fact the drink became so popular many of the leading European porcelain manufactures such as Limoges in France began making specialized pots and cups just to serve chocolate.
The Maya and their ancestors in Mesoamerica took the tree from the rainforest and grew it in their own backyards, where they harvested, fermented, roasted, and ground the seeds into a paste. When mixed with water, chile peppers, cornmeal, and other ingredients, this paste made a frothy, spicy chocolate drink. By 1400, the Aztec empire dominated a sizeable segment of Mesoamerica. The Aztecs traded with Maya and other peoples for cacao and often required that citizens and conquered peoples pay their tribute in cacao seeds—a form of Aztec money. Like the earlier Maya, the Aztecs also consumed their bitter chocolate drink seasoned with spices—sugar was an agricultural product unavailable to the ancient Mesoamericans.
Monkeys were the first to find the cacao plant edible and delectable, not man. In the hottest parts of ancient Mesoamerica, these brightly colored, rugby ball-shaped pods hung off trees, begging to be picked. Monkeys learned of the sweet, refreshing pulp concealed within the thick pod. Ancient man followed their example, picking the fruit off trees as they walked past. The sweet pulp of the cacao pod tasted like apricots or melons. But the beans—or seeds—in the core of the pulp were bitter and seemingly inedible. The monkeys would eat the pulp and spit out the beans. Ancient people followed the monkeys’ example, and only ate the delicious pulp. This was probably what Mother Nature had in mind: the seeds were disseminated throughout Mesoamerica, making cacao trees plentiful in South and Central America and guaranteeing cacao’s evolution.
Before the word chocolate came into the English language from Spanish, Hernan Cortes learned of a potent Aztec beverage made with cacahuaquchtl powder (the origin of the word “cocoa”), chili, musk, and honey. In a 1519 expedition to the New World, Cortes received a friendly reception from the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan (present-day Mexico City), who offered him the beverage tchocoatl. In the Nahuatl language of the Aztects, tchocoatl is derived from two words that mean “bitter water”: xocolli and atl. Another linguistic thread in the story of chocolate links the Nahuatl word chicol-li, a type of beating stick used in cooking, with the preparation of a frothy chocolate beverage. The original name of this drink may have been chicolatl, meaning “beaten drink.”