There are many chocolate holidays throughout the year, but there is only one National Chocolate Day. This amazing holiday honors one of America’s favorite flavors. It is observed annually on October 28, fitting in its proximity to Halloween.
Chocolate comes from Theobroma cacao seeds, roasted and ground, often flavored, as with vanilla. It can exist in several forms - liquid, paste, in a block, or as a flavoring ingredient in other foods.
Cacao seeds are thought to have been used as early as 1100 B.C., perhaps even earlier. According to The Smithsonian, there is case to be made that “evidence of chocolate consumption stretches back three or even four millennia, to pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica such as the Olmec.” For several centuries, the cacao bean was even considered valuable enough to be used as currency. Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed it had magical or divine properties, enough so that they could use it in sacred rituals of birth, marriage, and death.
We certainly consider it valuable today, and we wouldn’t argue against it having magical properties.
Modern use of chocolate can be arguably traced back to the early 19th century. In 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate, which would soon lead to the creation of the solid chocolate. This would happen around 1847, when Joseph Fry discovered that he could make a moldable chocolate paste by adding melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa.
Today, the chocolate industry is massive. It is a $50 billion+ per year business worldwide, with the United States accounting for $20 billion of the world’s chocolate revenue.
Chocolate is a dynamic flavor that has expanded in its usage over time. Artisans around the globe are constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to incorporate it into our foods. Premium flavor profiles, as well as low and reduced sugar varieties, are the places that the chocolate industry seems to be heading, due to consumers’ growing taste for gourmet and health-conscious products.
If chocolate has ever put a smile on your face, that is certainly the intention. It is a food that is strongly tied to emotional needs. Research from Mintel states that one in five Americans purchases chocolate to improve their mood. If you’re a bakery owner, you’ve no doubt experienced the look on a customer’s face when they take a bite out of a delicious chocolate treat, and that is something worth celebrating.