It is well-loved, most sought-after, has the capacity to iron out differences, is so powerful that it can console a wailing baby and can bring a smile to your face. Any guesses? Yes, it is the chocolate.

There are certain foods that escalate your spirits and surely chocolate is one of them. Indian meals are incomplete without sweets, which is proof enough of our sweet tooth.

We generally associate chocolate with solid edible food but initially, it was the name given to a drink and, surprising, for a spicy one called chocolatl.

Started as a drink

The Maya and Aztec civilisations are believed to have enjoyed this expensive drink made out of roasted cocoa beans. Great value was attached to the cocoa beans, so they were most often given as gifts on special occasions.

History has it that merchants used cocoa beans for barter trade, which is a system where goods are directly exchanged for other goods without money being involved. Cocoa beans came to be valued as currency.

The Aztecs, a certain ethnic group of central Mexico, drank chocolate in large quantities. They had to get their supplies of cocoa beans through trade as the dry climate in their place made it impossible to grow cocoa trees.

Delicious concoction

The chocolate drink was a foamy, reddish drink which contained aromatic flowers, vanilla, wild bee honey and chilli water.

The bright side of colonial invasions was that it helped in various cross-cultural exchanges. The invasion of Mexico by the Spanish in the 16{+t}{+h}century resulted in the spicy drink’s recipe reaching Spain as well.

Thanks to the efforts of a gentleman called Don Cortes, who was made the Governor of Mexico after the invasion, chocolate became a fashionable drink enjoyed by the elite in Spain (1528).

The Spanish version of the drink had cinnamon and sugar. The recipe was closely guarded due to the low availability of the cocoa beans.

Reaches England

As years rolled by, the recipe of chocolate spread across Europe and it reached England in 1650. In a few more years, it reached the rest of the world. What was exclusively used as a drink, soon became a bar after a technique was devised in the early Victorian times to solidify it. It is said that the chocolate drink was made into a candy in 1830.

It would be surprising to note that core of the sweetest delicacy is actually bitter.

There are two categories of cocoa – Criollo and Forastero. Criollo is superior to the latter and it is used for making high-quality chocolate.

Almost 90% of the cocoa beans are harvested from the Forastero variety.

The chocolate bar goes through various processing stages before it reaches your hand as a bar! Next time you grab one, take time to remember the history of chocolate.