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All About Chocolate

A Timeline: For over 4000 years Chocolate has had a universal appeal.

2000 BC

Cocoa, from which chocolate is created, is said to have originated in the Amazon 4,000 years ago.

300 AD

To the Mayas, cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility... nothing could be more important! Stones from their palaces and temples revealed many carved pictures of cocoa pods. The Maya called the cocoa tree cacahuaquchtl... "tree", and the word chocolate comes from the Maya word xocoatl which means bitter water.

600 AD

years-photo1.jpg Moving from Central America to the northern portions of South America, the Mayan territory stretched from the Yucatán Peninsula to the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. In the Yucatán, the Mayas cultivated the earliest know cocoa plantations. The cocoa pod was often represented in religious rituals, and their literature refers to cocoa as god’s food.

1200 AD

The Aztecs attributed the creation of the cocoa plant to their god Quetzalcoatl who, descended from heaven on a beam of a morning star carrying a cocoa tree stolen from paradise. In both the Mayan and Aztec cultures cocoa was the basis for a thick, cold, unsweetened drink called xocoatl… believed to be a health elixir. Since sugar was unknown to the Aztecs, different spices were used to add flavor, even hot chili peppers and corn meal were used!

years-photo1.jpg Aztecs believed that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cocoa tree, and also that it had nourishing, fortifying, and even aphrodisiac qualities. The Aztec emperor, Montezuma drank thick chocolate dyed red. The drink was so prestigious that it was served in golden goblets that were thrown away after only one use. He liked it so much that he was purported to drink 50 goblets every day! The cocoa beans were used for currency… records show that 400 cocoa beans equaled one Zontli, while 8000 beans equaled one Xiquipilli. When the Aztecs conquered tribes, they demanded their payment in cocoa! By subjugating the Chimimeken and the Mayas, the Aztecs strengthened their supremacy in Mexico. Records dating from 1200 show details of cocoa deliveries, imposed on all conquered tribes.

1492 AD

Columbus returned in Triumph From America. He presented King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella with many strange and wonderful things, but the few dark brown beans that looked like almonds didn’t get a lot of attention. In 1502, on his fourth voyage to America, Columbus landed in what is now called Nicaragua. He was the first European to discover cocoa beans both being used as currency, and to make a drink, as the Aztecs did. Columbus, who was still searching for the route to India, never did see the commerial potential of cocoa.

1513 AD

Hernando de Oviedo y Valdez, who went to America in 1513 as a member of Pedrarias Avila's expedition, reported that he bought a slave for 100 cocoa beans. According to Hernando de Oviedo y Valdez 10 cocoa beans bought the services of a prostitute, and 4 cocoa beans got you a rabbit for dinner. At this time, the name of the drink changed to Chocolatl from the Mayan word xocoatl (chocolate) and the Aztec word for water, or warm liquid.

1519 AD

years-photo1.jpg Hernando Cortez, who conquered part of Mexico in 1519, had a vision of converting cocoa beans to golden doubloons. While he was fascinated with the Aztec's bitter, spicy beverage (he didn’t like the cocoa drink), he was much intrigued by the beans’ value as currency. Later, Cortez established a cocoa plantation in the name of Spain declaring, henceforth, "money" will be cultivated! It was the birth of what was to be a very profitable business.

1528 AD

Cortès presented the Spanish King, Charles V with cocoa beans from the New World and the necessary tools for its preparation. No doubt Cortès taught the King how to make Chocolatl. Cortez postulated that if this bitter beverage were blended with sugar, it could become quite a delicacy. The Spaniards mixed the beans with sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. The results were tantalizing. Reserved for the Spanish nobility which created a demand for the fruits of his Spanish plantations, chocolate was a secret that Spain managed to keep from the rest of the world for 100 years!

1544 AD

years-photo1.jpg Dominican friars bring a delegation of Mayans to meet Philip. Spanish monks, who had been consigned to process the cocoa beans, finally let the secret out. It did not take long before chocolate was 2. acclaimed throughout Europe as a delicious, healthgiving food.

1569 AD

Pope Pius V, who did not like chocolate, declared that drinking chocolate on Friday did not break The Fast.

1579 AD

After taking a Spanish ship loaded with cocoa beans, English Buccaneers set it on fire thinking the beans were sheep dung.

1609 AD

The first book devoted entirely to chocolate, "Libro en el cual se trata del chocolate", is published in Mexico.

1615 AD

years-photo1.jpg Ann of Austria, daughter of Philip II of Spain, introduced the beverage to her new husband, Louis XIII.

1643 AD

When the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa was betrothed to Louis XIV of France, she gave her fiancé an engagement gift of chocolate, packaged in an elegantly ornate chest. Chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac flourished in the French courts. Art and literature was thick with erotic imagery inspired by chocolate. And the Marquis de Sade, became proficient in using chocolate to disguise poisons!

years-photo1.jpgCasanova was reputed for using chocolate with champagne to seduce the ladies. Madame de Pompadour was advised to use chocolate with ambergris to stimulate her desire for Louis XV... but to no avail. Madame du Barry, reputed to be nymphomaniacal, encouraged her lovers to drink chocolate in order to keep up with her.

1657 AD

London's first chocolate shop was opened by a Frenchman. Chocolate Houses became the trendy meeting places where the elite London society savored their new luxury. The first chocolate house opened in London advertising "this excellent West India drink."

1662 AD

As chocolate became exceptionally fashionable,The Church of Rome took a second look at this bewitching beverage. The judgment: "Liquidum non frangit jejunum," reiterated that a chocolate drink did not break the fast. But eating chocolate confections didn’t pass muster, until Easter.

1670 AD

years-photo1.jpgHelmsman Pedro Bravo do los Camerinos decided that he had had enough of Christian voyages of 3. exploration and settled in the Philippines, where he spends the rest of his life planting cocoa, thus laying the foundations for one of the great plantations of that time.

1674 AD

An Avant Guard, London Coffee House called At the Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll, goes down in the annals of history for serving chocolate in cakes, and also in rolls in the Spanish style.

1677 AD

By Royal Decree, November 1, 1677, Brazil establishes its first cocoa plantations in the State of Par.

1697 AD

years-photo1.jpg Heinrich Escher, mayor of Zurich, drinks chocolate in Brussels and introduces the awe-inspiring concoction to his friends at home.

1704 AD

Chocolate makes its appearance in Germany, and Frederick I of Prussia reacts by imposing a tax.

1711 AD

Emperor Charles VI transfers his court from Madrid to Vienna and along with his Court, comes chocolate.

1720 AD

Italian Chocolatiers from Florence and Venus, now well versed in the art of making chocolate, are welcomed to France, Germany and Switzerland.

1730 AD

brownies By 1730, chocolate had dropped in price from three dollars or more per pound to within financial reach of all.

1747 AD

Frederick III of Prussia forbid chocolate in his realm. Where Chocolate flourished, it's high price ensured that only the wealthy could indulge.

1755 AD

Diligently forging the concept of Democracy, Americans take time out to discovers chocolate.

1765 AD

In America, the production of chocolate proceeded at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world.

1780 AD

The first machine-made chocolate is produced in Barcelona, Spain.

1792 AD

brownies In Germany, the Josty brothers from Grisons open a confectioner's shop and make a hit selling “Swiss” Chocolate. Later they open a chocolate factory in Berlin.

1800 AD

Antoine Brutus Menier built the first industrial manufacturing facility for chocolate.

1810 AD

Venezuela produces one-half of the world's chocolate. One-third of the chocolate in the world is consumed by Spaniards.

1819 AD

brownies In a former mill near Vevey, Fran‡ois-Louis Cailler, who had learned the secrets of the chocolate trade in Italy, establishes his first factory. Secret techniques in blending and roasting beans, traditional family recipes and creative interpretations, and innovative candy making techniques have been handed down from generation to generation.

1822 AD

Off of the west coast of Africa on Principe Island in the Gulf of Guinea, Ferreira Gomes (from Portugal) uses the cocoa tree as an ornamental plant.

1828 AD

brownies The invention of the Cocoa Press lead to reduced prices and helped to improve the quality of the beverage by squeezing out part of the cocoa butter. Thus, drinking chocolate had a smoother consistency and a more pleasing taste.

1830 AD

Solid eating chocolate was developed by J. S. Fry and Sons, a British chocolate maker.

1847 AD

An English company introduced fondant chocolate. This smooth and velvety chocolate almost completely replaced the old coarse grained chocolate.

1849 AD

The Cadbury Brothers exhibited chocolate at Bingley Hall at Birmingham, England.

1851 AD

brownies At an exposition in London, hosted by Prince Albert, it was the first time Americans were introduced to bonbons, chocolate creams, hard candies (called "boiled sweets"), and caramels.

1853 AD

Heavy import duties are reduced. Once English duties made Chocolate a luxury for the wealthy, now the doors were open, allowing many more cocoa and drinking chocolate manufacturers to get into the business.

1857 AD

brownies A Portuguese Baron of Agua Iz, takes the cultivation of cocoa from Principe Island to a neighboring island, Sao Thome, and then to Ghana in the African continent. Farmers turn Ghana into one of the most important producers of cocoa in the world.

1875 AD

After eight years of experimentation, Daniel Peter from Switzerland puts the first milk chocolate on the market.

1879 AD

Rodolphe Lindt of Berne, Switzerland, invented "conching", a means of heating and rolling chocolate to refine it. After chocolate has been conched for 72 hours and has more cocoa butter added to it, chocolate becomes "fondant" and it melts in your mouth!

1900 AD

As Switzerland takes leadership, Spain, where chocolate was first introduced to Europeans, falls far behind. Germany consumes the most per person, followed by the United States, France and Great Britain.

1910 AD

Bolstered by an unbroken series of gold medals at international exhibitions, Swiss Chocolate, like bratwurst, rosti and fondue, becomes a national dish.

1913 AD

brownies Jules Sechaud of Montreux, Switzerland introduced the process for filling chocolates.

1923 AD

The Chocolate Manufacturers Association of the United States of America (CMA) was organized. The New York Cocoa Exchange was begun so that buyers and sellers could get together.

1938 AD

brownies During WW II, the U.S. government recognized chocolate's important role. It allocated valuable shipping space for the importation of cocoa beans which would give many weary soldiers the strength to carry-on.


Today, Chocolate is a multi-billion dollar worldwide business. More than ever before, more attention is being paid to quality. Leading the way is a small group of chocolate manufacturers led by the French maker, Valrhona.
Handcrafted Brownies
Ruth's Brownies are handcrafted to order daily and shipped fresh within hours of being removed from the oven to guarantee their freshness and delectable
taste. They are made according to our own special recipes exclusively with Valrhona chocolates and other farm-fresh natural or organic ingredients.