Cacao-trees (Theobroma cacao) which cacao beans are got from grew in tropical forests of Latin and Middle America.
Aztecs believed that cacao seed fell to the Earth straight from Heaven. By the way, they used the cacao beans instead of money. It is stated that a famous emperor of Aztecs, Montesuma, had even 40 thousand bags of cacao! Many theories exist about how cacao has reached Europe, but the fact that it was especially valued there is indisputable. In the XVI century the Spanish historian, Oviedo wrote: “Only a wealthy and noble man may go the length of drinking chocolate as he drinks…money.”
Inhabitants of the Central America were the first to learn how to produce chocolate, and they used it in liquid from. Supposedly, mankind (people of Mokaya culture) started relishing chocolate in 1900 BC. The heritage of Maya culture (paintings on walls, scripts and dish extant) speak of the usage of cacao. Chocolate was drunk, cacao was used as spice for meals. Liquid chocolate was usually not sweetened. By the way, it was available only for the nobility. Maya peoples, later Aztecs, liked the foam of the drink very much. Cacao beans used to be a monetary unit of the Maya and Aztec people. Cacao was also important for religious Aztec rituals.
In 1521, when the Spanish conquered Yucatan (currently Mexico), cacao beans were used as currency; however, the Spanish did not value cacao drink yet. Only after they decided to sweeten it by sugarcane sugar, the progeny of conquistadors started to like it. Then cacao spread over European wealthy men homes as a luxurious drink.
Chocolate started gaining popularity only in the other half of the XIX century, when mass production became possible thanks to the industry advancement. The most significant works of European inventors that contributed to development of chocolate:
In 1828, a Dutch chemist, C. van Houten, created a hydraulic press of cacao that allowed squeezing cacao butter of ground beans; mixing it with cacao and additives, bars of chocolate started to be produced;
In 1847, the enterprise managed by the English family, “J. S. Fry & Sons” invented the way how to mix cacao powder and sugar mass with melted cacao butter and to produce a bar of chocolate;
In 1867, a Swiss chemist, Henri Nestlé, invented the way how to produce milk powder by evaporation. The Swiss chocolate producer of Alsace origin, Daniel Peter, invented how to use Nestlé milk powder for production of a new kind of chocolate. In 1879, the first bar of milk chocolate was produced.
In 1879, a Swiss, Rudolph Lindt developed the process known as “conching” (a long rolling of products for chocolate production in a special machine); this then produced the world’s first real eating chocolate, that would melt in the mouth, was sweet and flavourful. In 1886, the chocolate industry reached Lithuania; M. Abramson established the first confectionery and chocolate factory in Vilnius.