By Sharon Kurtz ~
World Chocolate Day, celebrated on July 7 each year, is nothing short of a special tribute to mankind’s most famous culinary invention. (Sorry, pizza.) We don’t need to tell you what to do to celebrate this day — but we will:
Chocolate is one of the world’s favorite flavors, possibly THE most loved taste across seven continents. At any time in America, we consume more than 100 pounds of chocolate every second.
Am I addicted? Yes, I am!
Chocolate makes me feel this life is worth living.
Some might say that it’s a brave choice to have the event during the height of summer, but I think it’s the perfect excuse to eat lots before it melts all over your fingers.
Food of the Gods
This magic bean was consumed by humans as early as 1900 BCE and was an integral part of Aztec and Mayan cultures. Cacao and chocolate were widely used by ancient civilizations as currency. They revered it as a “food of the gods.”
Chocolate comes from a bean that grows from the cacao tree. So, technically, it’s a fruit. Maybe you didn’t cheat on your diet!
Ghana, Ecuador, and the Ivory Coast of Africa, all near the equator, have ideal climates for cacao trees and produce some of the world’s best chocolate.
How Is Chocolate Made?
Cacao tree seeds have a very intense, bitter taste. To develop the desired flavor, seeds are removed from their pods, fermented, dried, and roasted. After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs.
Chocolatiers grind the nibs into a cocoa mass, and finally, it becomes chocolate liquor. The liquor is then separated into cocoa solids and cocoa butter. From here, it’s used to produce various products, including unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate.
On average, it takes 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate, and nearly a year for a single cacao tree to produce enough pods to produce ten Hershey bars. On top of that, farmers struggle to keep crop yields up, as cacao trees are incredibly fragile.
Chocolate Is Good for You
Recent studies suggest that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains chemicals that lower the risk of cancer and heart disease. Flavonoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to make a difference in cardiovascular health.
Chocolate does contain fats and sugars, so you shouldn’t eat a great deal of it. But, as long as you eat it in moderation, the science suggests you can add as much as a year to your life.
Chocolate Is the Language of Love
Nothing says love on Valentine’s Day quite like chocolate. It’s considered a romantic gift, outside the realm of day-to-day food and reserved for special occasions.
For women, it is also associated with love and romance. That could be another reason why women particularly love chocolate.: Deep down, it makes them feel loved, cared for, and pampered.
So go ahead and delight in a banquet of delectable, divine chocolate.
As Charles Schultz says in his Charlie Brown comic strip, “All you really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”