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Sweet Legacy: Tracing the History of Chocolate in America

When something is as sweet and enjoyed as much as Gourmet Chocolate, it makes you wonder how it became such a gourmet treat to gift. To understand how this occurred, you’ve got to understand the history of when chocolate came to the States. In this article, we’ll be tracing the rich and decadent history of Chocolate in America.  

Chocolate Debut in America

The history of chocolate in America spans centuries, from its introduction by European explorers to its evolution into a beloved treat enjoyed by millions. Chocolate’s origins start in Mesoamerica, where indigenous cultures like the Aztecs and Mayans cultivated cacao trees and consumed chocolate in various forms including drinks. So, in theory, Chocolate originated in the Americas. But, that’s not how the historical story is told.

When the Spanish explorers arrived in the Americas in the 16th century, they encountered the original chocolate products created by the Aztecs and brought them back to Europe where the European elite made Chocolate popular as an ingredient in decadent beverages. 

After the Europeans developed their chocolate addiction in the 17th century, Chocolate made its way to the American colonies. Some say this was the debut of chocolate in the Americas but we know this not to be true. Once introduced to the original Colonies chocolate became primarily consumed by the wealthy elite as a beverage, often mixed with sugar and spices. The reason was that the manufacturing and creation of chocolate products was labor intensive making these products attainable for only the rich.  

Once Gourmet Chocolate products were commoditized, Chocolate houses evolved in America modeled after those in Europe, and began to appear in major cities like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. These Chocolate houses are where people could socialize and enjoy this new delicacy “re-introduced” to the Americas. Once chocolate was reintroduced in the Americas, new gourmet chocolate ideas originated within the 13 Colonies, including dark, milk, and white chocolate creations and gourmet chocolate excitement throughout the United States of America.

Chocolates Journey through America

Once Chocolate was introduced to America and the privileged had become accustomed to consuming it, the mass consumer sent this new gourmet treat on quite a historical journey. We think Chocolate’s real journey began when Joseph Fry took Conrad Van Houten’s learnings from his newly invented cocoa press in 1847 and used its “cocoa powder” to create new chocolate products.  

One creative idea Joseph Fry had was to create a more convenient way to consume gourmet chocolate.  He soon became known for his method of producing a bar of solid chocolate by mixing cocoa powder with cocoa butter and sugar, creating a paste that could be molded. This simple idea turned into the creation of the chocolate bar. The new chocolate bar product created a more convenient way to consume chocolate vs using it simply as an ingredient in drinks. This “trick” of creating a solid chocolate product paved the way for America to become the #1 consumer of chocolate annually.  

Chocolates Role in WW2

The annual American consumption of chocolate currently is mostly for personal consumption or gifting.  However, during WW2, the US government had chocolate manufacturers produce high-energy bars for front-line soldiers. Can you imagine? If our kids knew this history, they’d be asking for their rations of what the US government called D ration bars. 

Chocolate Holidays in America

Chocolate has evolved from an ancient luxurious drink into many modern chocolate products including molded gourmet chocolate candies. Holidays and special occasions now provide chocolate gifting opportunities for people to celebrate and indulge in this gourmet treat. Almost any Holiday is a Holiday for Chocolate gift-giving. From Mother’s Day to Father’s Day, from I Love You to I’m Sorry, from a client Thank You to just saying Hi, Chocolate is the “gourmet bridge” to saying it all!

Chocolates Future in America

Overall, the future of chocolate confectionery and culinary gourmet experiences holds exciting possibilities. That means Chocolates have a bright future in America. The history of chocolate in America is dependent on the sustainable sourcing practices for these bean types that have been developed over many years supporting a patterned growth of fair and productive crops for our Chocolateries to develop their gourmet treats. Strong product development in the Artisanal Chocolate business has grown as well as mass-market chocolate treat development.   

However, recent global warming has impacted the growing regions currently with drought and now crop-destroying pests which are driving supply shortages and cost increases. In the future, watch out for “cheap” chocolate which has minimal to no rich cocoa powder. Also, watch for more and more types of “chocolate-covered” candies using less chocolate-rich coatings. Large companies will continue in the future with these types of product development strategies to support maintaining profit margins as cocoa and chocolate prices increase. At MalibuGift, we say you should stick with luxury chocolates rich with real gourmet chocolate.

Innovative flavor combinations and technological production advancements are also driving the most recent future development of new Gourmet Chocolate ideas. Again, a limited supply of cocoa beans has recently put pressure on Cocoa and Chocolate pricing but at MalibuGift not enough to slow down current gourmet chocolate candy creation. Rest assured, as consumer preferences evolve and prices go up, the chocolate industry will create new ideas to drive consumption. The industry is full of smart and creative confectionaries. At MalibuGift, we won’t ever settle on our chocolate ingredients. Want to learn more about the history of chocolate truffles and the history of chocolate covered cherries, get familiar with the history behind the gourmet treats we love.

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