Boyer Candies - History of Chocolate

The History of Chocolate


Etymology
Cocoa was discovered by the Mayan Indians of Mexico and Central America more than 2000 years ago.

The cocoa tree's scientific name, theobroma cocoa, is Greek for ďFood of the Gods." The word Chocolate is said to have come from the Mayan word Xocolat which meant "bitter water."

Cocoa comes from the Aztec word Cacahuartl. The Mexican Indian word for chocolate comes from a combination of the terms Choco (foam), and atl (water) because for centuries early chocolate was consumed as a drink.

A historical treasure
The Mayans harvested the cocoa beans from the rain forest trees then later cleared areas of the forest to make way for the first known cocoa plantation.Chocolate bar The Mayans worshiped the cocoa bean as an idol and used the cocoa beans as currency.

The Aztecs, an ancient nomadic tribe in Mexico were unable to grow the cocoa bean themselves but were able to receive supplies from "tribute," a form of taxation paid by the tribes they conquered. The Aztecs, like the Mayans, used cocoa beans for currency.

By the time the Spanish invaded Mexico in the 16th century, the Aztecs had created a powerful empire. In 1523, they offered the cocoa beans to Don Cortes. He brought this treasure back to Spain where itís formula was kept a secret for almost 100 years and was served only to the wealthy with Spanish nobility.

The popularity spreads
Christopher Columbus was in fact the first European to discover cocoa beans on his 4th voyage to America in 1502, but dismissed his findings due to a greater interest in finding a sea route to India.

Anne of Austria, a Spanish Princess who became wife of the French King Louis XIII, declared chocolate as the drink of the French Court in 1615.

Chocolate became popular in Italy and England in the early 17th century. In 1657, the first Chocolate Shop was opened in London.

In 1828, C J Van Houten invented the cocoa Press which extracted cocoa oil. The residue was ground into cocoa powder.

Chocolate comes to Pennsylvania Due to religious persecution that the Quakers faced in England, thousands migrated to America and settled in the colony of Pennsylvania founded in 1682 by William Penn. During the industrial Revolution, it was the Quakers who were credited with investing in cocoa as a commodity and further developing it into a business. Through their efforts, cocoa became more affordable to the masses. One of the Quakers' aim was to persuade the poor to give up alcohol in favor of a healthier chocolate drink.

Chocolate in America The first processing house for chocolate in America was in opened in 1765.

In Dorchester Massachusetts, milk chocolate was invented in 1875 by Daniel Peter.

In 1879, cocoa butter was reintroduced back into chocolate to form the chocolate bar as we know it today.

Chocolate on the battlefield World war I really brought attention to chocolate. The US Army commissioned various American chocolate manufacturers to provide 20 to 40 pound blocks of chocolate to be shipped overseas to our troops on the battle line. The blocks were chopped up into smaller pieces and distributed to Doughboys in Europe. When the soldiers returned from war they created a greater demand for the chocolate that they became so fond of in the battlefield.

The Boyer legacy begins With over 40,000 different candy bars being offered due to the easy availability of ingredients, such as milk, sugar and corn syrup, the original candy bar industry had itís start on the east coast. In 1936 the Boyer Brothers saw this chocolate boom as an opportunity to provide extra income for the family. Bob and Bill set out in their mother's kitchen to make homemade candy that they could sell in the neighborhood. With Bill making the candy, their mother Emily wrapping, and Bob selling door-to-door, the brothers began what we call an ongoing love affair with the American consumer.

For more information on the Boyer Candy history, go to the Boyer Story.