20 things you don’t know about chocolate

Pots, bowls, and other items unearthed from a site in South America contain clues about the origin of cocoa cultivation.

1. Chocolate is everywhere, and scientists are still studying the chemical properties, health effects and origins of this delicious food. In the book “Chocolate: A Real History,” he said: “The prehistory and ethnographic history of the New World involved in this diet is so foggy and difficult to explore.”

2. Chocolate is the transliteration of the foreign word “Chocolate”. The main raw material is cocoa beans. It was originally a drink belonging to the court members. Its scientific name “Theobroma” has the meaning of “the drink of the gods” and is regarded as a valuable heart. A diuretic agent that has an activating effect on proteolytic enzymes in the gastric juice to aid digestion.

3. For centuries, based on linguistic and archaeological evidence, researchers believe that chocolate originated in Mexico and Central America about 4,000 years ago. However, research published in Nature, Ecology and Evolution in October 2018 shows that people spend more time enjoying chocolate than previously known. The study details the artificial cultivation and use of cocoa in an ancient settlement in the highlands of southeastern Ecuador 5,300 years ago.

4. After researching the archaeological site of the Santa Ana-La Florida archaeological site, a well-preserved village and a ritual center, scientists have found evidence of a large number of humans using cocoa, a chocolate ingredient. The team analyzed items such as sarcophagi, pottery bowls and bottles to find traces of cocoa. There are three types of evidence that people in this area are the first to use cocoa.

5. First, the six tested artificial devices contained a group of plant starch granules from the cocoa tree. Secondly, theobromine appeared in 25 pottery and 21 stone products, a bitter substance with a high content in cocoa seeds. Finally, members of the research team also discovered some ancient genetic material mitochondrial DNA from pottery fragments, and these DNAs may only come from cocoa beans.

6. On the other hand, the discovery also anchors the origin of cocoa production to the upper reaches of the Amazon River in South America, rather than Central America, which was once thought to be.

7. As the chocolate spreads north, it becomes a luxury, worthy of tribute to the Aztecs, Mayans and other Central American civilizations. Originally, Maya and Aztecs consumed chocolate in the form of unsweetened liquids and used it as currency. After Spain conquered Central America, chocolate was promoted to Europe. Here, chocolate became the drink of the king and the nobility for the first time, and then spread it in the cafe. The industrialization of the 19th and 20th centuries brought chocolate into the lives of the public.

8. But Central American chocolate has little in common with modern chocolate. It is a mixture of cocoa powder, water, corn, fruit, pepper or honey that can be made into a porridge or a drink. The researchers said: “Today’s chocolate desserts contain a lot of sugar, which is quite different from the local use of cocoa mentioned in the 16th and 17th century historical records.”

9. When chocolate first entered Europe in the 16th century, it was a hot drink made from “chocolate pulp.” Chocolate pulp is more accurately called baked chocolate today. Eating “chocolate” began in the mid-19th century, when European confectionery manufacturers added sugar and extra cocoa butter to create the dark chocolate that is known today.

10. Around the 16th century, the Spaniards made the chocolate “sweet”. They mixed cocoa powder and spices in the cane juice to make a sweet drink. By 1876, a Swiss named Peter had ingenuity and mixed with some milk, which completed the whole process of modern chocolate creation. Soon after, it was thought that the liquid chocolate would be dehydrated and concentrated into pieces of chocolate candy that could be carried and preserved. In 1828, Wan Howden of the Netherlands thought of removing 2/3 of his fat to make it easy to drink. White chocolate is the invention of the 20th century, chocolate without cocoa powder, so strictly speaking it is not chocolate.

11. Baile Jialibao launched a high-profile ruby ​​chocolate at the end of 2017, but the company is reluctant to share the scientific principles behind this rose-mixed chocolate. Experts speculate that it was made from unfermented cocoa beans, and the company applied for a patent in 2009. If this is true, then the lack of fermentation process can explain why the gourmet who tried this chocolate said that it has no real chocolate flavor: the taste of chocolate depends heavily on fermentation.

12. After fermentation, different microorganisms produce acid and other things, mostly in the thick flesh around the cocoa beans. This triggers the biochemical changes of the coffee beans themselves, which ultimately affects the taste.

In September, 2018, the researchers published the first quantitative model of this complex process at the Royal Society of Open Science. More complicated: small-scale cocoa growers who produce 90% of the world’s cocoa beans vary greatly in fermentation technology.

14. These family managers are struggling, and less than 1% of chocolate can be considered “fair trade”. Inequality between large companies and growers is actually increasing.

15. Don’t expect chocolate to enhance your spirit. In 2018, Medicinal Plants published a review of previous studies on the effects of chocolate on emotions: the authors found that few studies have chemically analyzed the chocolates consumed by participants.

16. Researchers say this is important because the chemicals contained in chocolate vary greatly depending on the processing method, such as baking temperature and time. In addition, any health effects may come from a specific chemical, as well as interactions between multiple chemicals or other completely different factors.

17. For example, our brain naturally produces the “bliss molecule” arachidonic acidamine, but it is also present in chocolate, which makes people claim that sweets are the best food.

18. However, as the 2018 study pointed out, chocolate contains only a small amount of arachidonic acidamine and is rapidly decomposed. Conversely, any bliss that chocolate offers is more likely to be a chemical combination, plus a sensory experience of taste, taste and smell.

19. Eating chocolate is good for the heart: An analysis published in the Wall Street Journal in 2015 showed that the more chocolate you eat, the lower the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

20. Speaking of chocolate madness, a review of food addiction studies in April 2018 found evidence that chocolate produces neurobiological changes similar to drugs.