Today sees the start of NATIONAL CHOCOLATE WEEK here in the UK - the American celebration takes place in March.
SOME CHOCOLATE FACTS.
* The eating of chocolate has long been associated with love. Apparently, Aztec Emperor, Monteczuma (c1502) drank 50 cups of chocolate a day to advance his ardour. (A lover of chocolate myself - I'm not too sure 50 cups of the stuff would improve my ardour, more likely to leave me feeling extremely sick.)
* Chocolate contains Phenylethylamine and Serotonin both of which also occur naturally in the human body. These mood lifting substances are released into the nervous system when we are happy and when we are experiencing feelings of passion, creating a rise in blood pressure and heart rate and inducing a feeling of well being. So when you need a lift - eat chocolate.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE.
* 1502 Christopher Columbus introduces chocolate to Spain from his fourth voyage to the New World but not as the product we know today. It was only consumed as a drink. The word 'chocolate' was derived from the Aztec word 'xocolat' which means bitter water.
* 1615 Anne of Austria (wife of Louis XIII) declares chocolate the drink of the French Court, although this was only after much skepticism, as initially it was considered a 'barbarous product and noxious drug'.
* 1640 Chocolate finds its way to England, among other European countries.
* 1657 The drink becomes a best seller in England and 'excessive' duties are imposed on chocolate. It takes almost 200 years before the duty is dropped.
* 1828 Dutch chocolate maker, Conrad J. Van Houten, created the hydraulic chocolate press. The press enabled chocolate makers to crush the 'nibs' or 'centres' of roasted cacao beans into a paste (chocolate liquor). After crushing, some of the cocoa butter was extracted.
* 1848 English chocolate maker, Joseph Storrs Fry, created the first 'eating' chocolate by further refining the cocoa, adding sugar and mixing the cocoa butter back in.
* 1875 Swiss, Daniel Peter, added condensed milk to chocolate and marketed the first solid milk chocolate bar.
For all of those worried about chocolate not being good for their health, research has shown chocolate MAY
* Lower your blood pressure
* Provide protection from heart disease
* Soothe coughs
* Prevent tooth decay.
(Something tell me this 'research' may very well have been carried out by a chocolate company or is that just me being cynical?)
Even more surprising than this research, 10yetis reports that a 'leading celebrity fashion website' has discovered that
it's own UK users are more interested in National Chocolate Week then they are the fashion events taking place in the Capital City. (Good to see we have our priorities right!)