I thought it would be fun to talk about chocolate, since in this season we usually eat all kinds of goodies! The following article is from The Book of Wonders, 1914. Warning: You are about to learn more than you ever wanted to know about chocolate!! (In 1914, at least!)
THE STORY IN A STICK OF CHOCOLATE
Where Does Chocolate come from?
Perhaps no other one thing is so well known to boys and girls the world over as chocolate. Yet there was a time in history, when there were no cakes of chocolate, or chocolate candies to be had in the candy shops, no chocolate flavored soda water or chocolate cake. To-day quite a panic would be started if the world’s supply of chocolate were cut off.
Chocolate is obtained from cacao, which is the seed of the cacao tree. It is quite often called cocoa, although this is not quite a correct way of spelling the word. The cacao tree grows to a height of sixteen or eighteen feet when cultivated, but to a greater height when found growing in the wild. The cacao pod grows out from the trunk of the tree as shown in the picture, and is, when ripe, from seven to ten inches long and from three to five inches in diameter, giving it the form of an ellipse. When you cut one of these pods open, you find five compartments or cells, in each of which is a row of from five to ten seeds, which are imbedded in a soft pulp, which is pinkish in color. Each pod then contains from twenty-five to fifty seeds, which are what we call “cocoa beans.”
The cacao tree was discovered for us by Christopher Columbus, so that we have good reason to remember him aside from his great discovery of America. The discovery of either of these would be fame enough for any one man, and it would be difficult for some boys and girls to say just which of the two was Columbus’ greater discovery.
Columbus found the cacao tree flourishing both in a wild and in a cultivated state upon one of his voyages to Mexico. The Indians of Peru and Mexico were very fond of it in its native state. They did not know the joy of eating a chocolate cream, but they had discovered the qualities of the cacao bean as a food and had learned to cultivate it long before Columbus came to Mexico.
Columbus took some of the cacao beans back with him to Spain and to this day cacao is much more extensively used by the Spaniards than by any other nations. The first record of its introduction into England is found in an announcement in the Public Advertiser of June 16, 1657, to the effect that:
“In Bishopgate Street, in Queen’s Head Alley, at a Frenchman’s house, is an excellent West Indian drink called chocolate, to be sold where you may have it ready at any time and also unmade, at reasonable rates.”
Of course, by the time America became settled the people brought their taste for chocolates with them.
What is the Difference Between Cacao and Chocolate?
When the cacao seeds are roasted and separated from the husks which surround them, they are called cocoa-nibs. Cocoa consists of these nibs alone, whether they are ground or unground, dried and powdered, or of the crude paste dried in flakes.
Chocolate is made from the cocoa-nibs. These nibs are ground into an oily paste and mixed with sugar and vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, or other flavoring substances. Chocolate is only a product made from cocoa-nibs, but it is the most important product.
What are Cocoa Shells?
There are other products which are obtained from the cacao seed. One is called Broma—which is the dry powder of the seeds, after the oil has been taken out.
Cocoa shells are the husks which surround the cocoa bean. These are ground up into a fine powder and sold for making a kind of cocoa for drinking, although the flavor is to a great extent missing and it is, of course, not nearly so nourishing as a drink of real cocoa.
What is Cocoa Butter?
The oil from the cacao seeds, when separated from the seeds is what we call cocoa butter. It has a pleasant odor and chocolate-like taste. It is used in making soap, ointments, etc.
How is Cacao Gathered?
When the cacao pods ripen on the tropical plantations, where the climate is such that they can be grown successfully, the native laborer cuts off the ripened pods as we see him doing in the picture showing the pods on the tree. He does this with a scissors-like arrangement of knives on a long pole.
As he cuts off the pods he lays them on the ground and leaves them to dry for twenty-four hours. The next day they are cut open, the seeds taken out and carried to the place where they are cured or sweated.
In the process of curing or swea-
ting the acid which is found with the seeds is poured off. The beans are then placed in a sweating box. This part of the process is for the purpose of making the beans ferment and is the most important part of preparing the beans for market, as the quality and the flavor of the beans and, therefore, their value in the market, depends largely upon the ability of whoever does it in curing or fermenting.
Sometimes the curing is done by placing the seeds in trenches or holes in the ground and covering them with earth or clay. This is called the clay-curing process. The time required in curing the cacao beans varies, but on the average requires two days. When cured they are dried by exposure to the sun and packed ready for shipping. At this time beans of fine quality are found to have a warm reddish color. The quality or grades of beans are determined by the color at this stage.
How Chocolate is Made.
When the cacao beans arrive at the chocolate factory they are put through various processes to develop their aroma, palatability and digestibility.
The seeds are first roasted. In roasting the substance which develops the aroma is formed. The roasting is accomplished in revolving cylinders, much like the revolving peanut roasters, only much larger. After roasting the seeds are transferred to crushing and winnowing machines. The crushing machines break the husks or “shells,” and the winnowing machine by the action of a fan separates the shells from the actual kernel or bean. The beans are now called cocoa-nibs. These nibs are now in turn winnowed, but in smaller quantities at a time, during which process the imperfect pieces are removed with other foreign substances. Cacao beans in this form constitute the purest and simplest form of cacao in which it is sold. The objection to their use in this form is that it is necessary to boil them for a much longer time, in order to disintegrate them, than when they are ground up in the form of meal. For that reason the nibs are generally ground before marketing as cacao or cocoa.
Another form in which the pure seeds are prepared is the flaked cocoa. This is accomplished by grinding up the nibs into a paste. This grinding is done in a revolving cylinder machine in which a drum revolves. In this process the heat developed by the friction in the machine is sufficient to liquefy the oil in the beans and form the paste. The oil then solidified again in the paste when it becomes cool.
What we know as cakes of chocolate are made from the cocoa-nibs by heating the mixture of the cacao, sugar and such flavoring extracts as vanilla, until an even paste is secured. This paste is passed several times between heavy rollers to get a thorough mixture and finally poured into molds and allowed to cool. When cool it can be taken from the molds in firm cakes
and wrapped for the market. This is the way Milk Chocolate is made. The difference in the taste and consistency of milk chocolate depends on how many different things the chocolate maker adds to the pure cocoa-nibs to produced this mixture. Often substances such as starchy materials are added to make the cakes more firm. They add nothing to the quality of the chocolate.
Chocolate-covered bonbons, chocolate drops, and the many different kinds of toothsome confections are prepared in the American candy factories, as we all know. The chocolate covering of this confectionery is generally put on by dipping the inside of the choice morsel in a pan of￼ liquid chocolate paste and then placing the bits in tins to allow them to cool and harden.
A great many of the choicest bits of confectionery are now produced by machines entirely. These machines are almost human, apparently, as we see them make a perfect chocolate bonbon which is delivered to a candy box all wrapped for packing.These wonderful machines thus give us candy which has not been touched by the hands of any one prior to the time we thrust our own fingers in the brightly-decorated box and take our pick of the assortment it offers.