The Chocolate Tooth

History of Chocolate

Since its discovery, chocolate has served many purposes and values -- from medicinal to recreational.

It's taken several forms: beverage, powder and bar. It's been wrapped, baked and melted. There is no denying the diversity of chocolate's roles throughout history.

Photo of young girls wrapping chocolate bars in a factory
Young girls, ages 13 to 15, wrapping chocolate bars in a factory. Source: Flickr Creative Commons -- Nationaal Archief/André Schreurs

The timeline briefly explains the evolution of chocolate.

1500 B.C. - 400 B.C. Olmec Indians first to grow cocoa beans as a domestic crop
300 B.C. - 500 B.C. Cocoa beans are restricted to Mayan elite, who use it to make an unsweetened cocoa drink.
600 A.D. - 1000 A.D. Cocoa beans are used as currency.
1500s Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes tries chocolate in Central America and brings it back to Spain.
1570s Cocoa becomes more popular and is used as a medicine and aphrodisiac.
1600s Antonio Carletti, and Italian traveler, brings chocolate from Spain to Italy.
1700s Chocolate as a beverage gains popularity worldwide.
1820s A Dutch chemist discovered a method for making powdered chocolate, which led to the creation of solid chocolate.
1840s Joseph Fry is said to have made the first modern chocolate bar.
1860s A company by the name of Cadbury begins marketing boxes of chocolate candies in England.
1900s Milton Hershey creates a town called Hersheyville that he dedicates to the production of chocolate.
2008 Chocolate is more than a $4 billion industry in the U.S.
Photo of boy dipping ice cream bars in chocolate
A boy hand dips ice cream bars at his family's dairy and ice cream store in Minnesota. Source: Flickr Creative Commons -- The U.S. National Archives