Feed the chocoholic in you by paying homage to the cacao bean in all its celestial beauty. For over 2000 years chocolate has been celebrated in its many incarnations from cookies and cakes to beverages and body paint, chocolate has stood the test of time as one of our nation’s favourite indulgences.
Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.”
With National Chocolate Week (8th – 14th October) almost upon us, here are 10 facts that celebrate all things chocolate:
1) More than 66 percent of the world’s cacao is produced in Africa and 98 percent of the world’s cocoa is produced by just 15 countries.
2) We now eat on average just under 7 oz per person per week. The confectionery industry is worth over £5 billion in UK alone of which chocolate is £3.5 billion.
3) A new study shows that the flavanols in chocolate reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions by protecting brain cells and increasing blood flow around the brain.
4) Research in Sweden says a chocolate bar a week could lower chance of stroke in later life by 17%.
5) Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Ireland and Norway are European countries with the highest consumption or addiction to chocolate.
6) The first chocolate bar was produced by Cadbury in England in 1842.
7) The largest chocolate bar ever manufactured was in Italy in 2000 and the bar had a weight of 2268 kilograms.
8) More than twice as many women than men eat and crave chocolate.
The first chocolate house was opened in London by a Frenchman. The shop was called the ‘The Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll’. Costing 10 to 15 shillings per pound, chocolate was considered a beverage for the elite class.
9) Despite being high in fat content, chocolate doesn’t appear to raise blood cholesterol levels.
10) Chocolate produces the effects of a mild anti-depressant by increasing serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain.
Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get – Forrest Gump