Chocoholics of the world rejoice! World chocolate day is fast approaching. On the 7th of July, we will all have a legitimate excuse to indulge our sweet tooth (as if we even needed one!) and show appreciation for the wonderful cocoa bean and everything it has done for us.
The origins of world chocolate day are seemingly rooted in the celebration of the day that chocolate was introduced to Europe on the 7th of July 1550, meaning this year marks 469 years of having the sensational substance on our shores.
Before being brought to Europe, cocoa beans were native to Central America. Because of difficulties involved in growing the cacao tree and the relatively low yield of the crop, coupled with how desirable they were for their religious significance, they were used as a form of currency. Back then, chocolate looked very different from the bars we consume today.
The raw beans were fermented, roasted and ground into a paste that was then mixed with water, spices and chilli peppers for flavour (giving a whole new meaning to the term hot chocolate!). This cocoa-based drink was believed to grant the drinker strength and act as an aphrodisiac. As a result, it was coveted by royalty, fed to warriors, and used as a medicine by the Mayans.
Once cocoa beans made their way over to Europe they were still used as the basis of a drink; only it was flavoured with sugar and cinnamon to appeal to the palate of the European aristocracy who were the only ones who could afford it. As chocolate rose in popularity, production increased, which in turn drove down costs, making it more affordable for everyone to enjoy.
It wasn’t until 1847 that the first solid chocolate bar was created in Britain by Joseph Fry. This was achieved by pressing a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar into shape.
John Cadbury introduced his chocolate bar in 1849, beginning a long legacy of Great British Chocolatiers. It wasn’t until 1875 that the world was introduced to the milk chocolate bar by a Swiss chocolatier called Daniel Peter, who added Nestlé milk powder to chocolate bars. This partnership became the basis of the Nestlé Company who are now one of Europe’s major players in confectionary.
Fun Facts About Chocolate
When chocolate was used as currency in 1545, records confirm that it cost 100 beans to buy a turkey in Central America
Chocolate melts at 33 degrees Celsius which is just below body temperature, giving it that lovely ‘melt in the mouth’ texture.
Because of this, M&M’s were sold exclusively to the American military as part of their rations during World War II. The protective shell stopped the chocolate melting in hotter climates like the Pacific.
Nutella was invented after World War II when Italian pastry chef, Pietro Ferrero, padded out his scarce cocoa supply with hazelnuts.
To celebrate their 100th birthday, Thorntons made the worlds largest bar of chocolate weighing 5,792kg. See images below:
Make sure you’re nut left out!
World chocolate day is a global celebration of all things chocolate and that should be an inclusive experience for everyone who wishes to spoil themselves, regardless of their dietary needs.
Many of today’s most popular chocolate products are made with ingredients that can prohibit individuals that have from food allergies and intolerances from participating such as; milk, peanuts, tree nuts and soya. However, many companies take pride in offering a range of products that can be enjoyed by consumers that have allergies and dietary needs.
Erudus had the pleasure of visiting Whitakers Chocolates in Skipton, one of the oldest and most prolific chocolate manufacturers in the UK to gain an insight into how a chocolate manufacturer operates. Whitakers were kind enough to show us around the factory and talked us through their product range, manufacturing process and allergen management on site.
Whitakers have stringent policies in place to prevent contamination of their products. All of the dark chocolate in the factory is processed on segregated machines to the milk chocolate, no nuts are permitted on site, and there is a rigorous decontamination process that anyone entering the factory floor must perform.
Risk assessments are performed at every step of the manufacturing process and for every ingredient to prevent contamination and if there are any changes to ingredients that contain allergens all staff members must undergo retraining to maintain the high standards that they have set for their customer base. Whitakers has recently registered several products that have gained approval from the vegan society; these products include:
As well as their vegan status on some products, Whitakers have proven their inclusivity in the chocolate world by offering Kosher chocolates on request.
The variety of products that Whitakers offers to cater to people with different dietary needs is impressive, especially when considering the scale of the operation. Running at maximum output, the Whitakers factory can produce 2 million chocolates a day! (Even the team at Erudus would have a hard time eating that much!).
As always, when purchasing or consuming any chocolate, check the ingredients declaration to ensure there are no traces of any allergens if you suffer from an allergy or intolerance and enjoy world chocolate day responsibly.
Choc full of ideas!
If you want to get a little bit more imaginative on World Chocolate Day than just buying your favourite bar, packet or box, here at Erudus, we have got you covered!
Below you will find creative recipes using chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner to celebrate World Chocolate Day in style, and all generated through our recipe builder solution for caterers:
Kickstart your day in a chocolatey way with these gluten-free chocolate pancakes:
Try using cocoa powder to enhance the flavour of this vegan-friendly bean chilli.
Nothing beats a steak dinner, except when its paired with a chocolate and coffee sauce to celebrate world chocolate day in style!