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10 Interesting Facts About Chocolate

By bfitch | April 23rd, 2018

While we already know that chocolate has many health benefits, here are some interesting facts about chocolate that you may not know:

1. Chocolate is literally “the food of the gods”.

Chocolate originates from the cacao tree, the botanical name of which is Theobroma Cacao. Theobroma is derived from the Greek theos meaning “god” and broma meaning “food”—making choclate the food of the gods.

2. Chocolate has been around for a while:

The first people to harvest chocolate were the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec peoples who lived in southeast Mexico around 1,000 B.C. The word “chocolate” is derived from the Mayan word xocolatl, or “bitter water.”

3. Cocoa beans were used as currency:

In Mayan civilization, cacao beans were the currency, and counterfeiting cacao beans out of painted clay had become a thriving industry. Goods could be priced in units of cacao. While the Spanish conquistadors hoarded gold, the Mesoamericans hoarded cacao beans. In some parts of Latin America, the beans were used as a currency as late as the 19th century.

4. That’s a lot of beans:

It takes approximately 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.

5. What does chocolate look like before it’s harvested?

Cacao pods are harvested which each yield about 50 cocoa beans [pictures]

Cocoa Fruit (pod)

Cocoa Beans in Cocoa Pod

6. Chocolate was originally consumed as a drink.

In fact, chocolate was consumed in liquid form for 90% of its history until… The Fry and Sons shop concocted what they called “eating chocolate” in 1847 by combining cocoa butter, sugar, and chocolate liquor. This was a grainy, solid form of the treat. In 1847, Fry’s produced the first solid chocolate bar.

7. Cocoa actually helps prevent tooth decay:

It has an anti-bacterial effect on the mouth. A study by researchers at Osaka University found that parts of the cocoa bean help to thwart tooth bacteria and prevent tooth decay. Unfortunately, most chocolate also contains sugar, so it’s probably not a good strategy to avoid cavities.

8. Consuming chocolate has been linked to lower risk of heart disease.

Studies have shown that eating DARK chocolate reduce the risk of heart disease by one-third.

9. That’s a lot of chocolate!

The world’s largest chocolate bar weighed 12,770 lbs.

10. Don’t eat it all at once:

Turns out there is too much of a good thing. The primary active ingredient in chocolate, theobromine, is a powerful stimulant of the central nervous system. Theobromine poisoning can cause heart failure, seizures, acute kidney damage and dehydration. A lethal dosage of chocolate is about 22 lbs.

 

References:

Grivetti, Louis E. and Howard-Yana Shapiro. Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2009.

Rosenblum, Mort. Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light. New York, NY: Macmillan, 2006.

Mintz, Sidney (2015). The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. Oxford University Press. p. 157

“Chocolate ‘Fights Tooth Decay’ Claim Scientists.(News).” The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), 24 Aug. 2000.

“Chocolate Reduces Heart Disease Risk.” Live Science, 29 August, 2011.

“Largest Chocolate Bar by Weight.” Guinness World Records, www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-chocolate-bar-.

Compiled by Molly Oldfield & John Mitchinson. “QI: Quite Interesting Facts about Chocolate.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 21 July 2009, www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/qi/5878406/QI-quite-interesting-facts-about-chocolate.html.