Today, February 1, is National Dark Chocolate Day, and I celebrated by baking chocolate treats for several gifts, and doing a fun photo shoot with … you guessed it … all things chocolate!
While chocolate’s not my first-choice dessert, most everyone I’m close to gets practically giddy when chocolate comes around, so I decided to pay tribute to this national day of celebration.
I don’t drink coffee either, but I did my part today by baking double-chocolate-espresso muffins topped with chocolate chips and turbinado finishing sugar.
And when the muffins went into the oven and I licked the batter spoon, I totally got it – very tasty!
Chocolate’s Long History
Dark chocolate dates back to 3,000 years ago when people in Central American drank it. Later, the Mayans and Aztecs also drank it, and called it “xocolatl,” from where the word “chocolate” is derived. Next up on the chocolate history timeline (according to Google sources) was the Spanish taking cocoa beans to Europe.
Drinking dark chocolate preceded eating chocolate, and while I’m jumping over a few factoids along the way, the first chocolate factory in the United States opened in 1765.
In 1847, Englishman Joseph Fry mixed cocoa powder and sugar into a paste that was pressed into a mold, and the world’s first chocolate bar was born in Bristol, England.
Fast forward to 1876 when Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate by adding dried milk powder to dark chocolate. Oh, yeah, he also worked with a friend named Henri (wait for it …) Nestle, and together they started the Nestle Company and made milk chocolate widely available.
The Bars We Know
There are long and interesting histories for chocolate candies that are still popular today, but for the purpose of this blog post, we’ll stick to the invention dates for a handful of favorites:
- Hershey Bar – 1900
- Hershey’s Kisses – 1907
- Mounds Bar – 1920
- Milky Way Bar – 1923
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – 1928
- Snickers Bar – 1930
- 3 Musketeers Bar – 1932
- Almond Joy Bar – 1946
American Consumption – Are You Doing Your Part??
Americans eat 2.8 billion (with a “b”) pounds of chocolate a year, which translates to nearly 11 pounds on average for each person (plus another 11 pounds of non-chocolate candy per person).
Eating approximately one pound of chocolate per month is equivalent to eating 100 Hershey’s Kisses … that’s just way over the top!
Dark chocolate (vs. milk chocolate) does provide a host of proven health benefits, when eaten in moderation. Among them are minerals; antioxidants; blood pressure lowering; heart health; and brain function improvement.
All I can say is I’m happy to have participated in a healthy dark chocolate lifestyle today by eating the spoon’s batter plus one of the muffins I crumbled for the photo shoot … somebody had to try them before giving the rest away, right?!
It was a lot of fun to make a (big) chocolate mess styling the scene, and I hope you enjoy the photographs I shot, especially if you love all things chocolate!
Do you like chocolate – eating it and/or photographing it? Did you celebrate today’s National Dark Chocolate Day? Be sure to comment below!