First trace of chocolate leads to Mesoamerica.
Evidence suggests that beverages appeared already in 1900 BC, whereas fermented seeds of cacao tree have been served as an alcoholic beverage in 1400 BC.
To Europe, chocolate arrived in 16th century, when Christopher Columbus came back from his 4th mission to Americas. Cacao beans were found in a native canoe which he seized. But it did not become famous until the Spanish conquest the Aztecs. Then it was imported to Europe and quickly recognized by the court.
Between the early 17th and late 19th centuries cacao plantations spread and what goes with it – slaves market. Because processing of the cacao bean was manual and took a logn time, wind-powered and horse-drawn mills were used to speed production. Still, only rich people could taste chocolate.
Creating a steam-driven chocolate mill by Debuisson in the early 18th century made the chocolate making process more effective.
In 1815, Conrad Van Houten reduced chocolate bitterness by adding alkaline salt to it. In 1828, the same Dutch chemist created “dutch cocoa” a press to remove about half the cacao butter from chocolate liquor, which made chocolate cheaper to produce and more consistent in quality. This innovation introduced the modern era of chocolate.
The first milk chocolate was made 28 years later – in 1875 – by Daniel Peter. He mixed the liquor with a powdered milk developed by Henri Nestlé. In 1879, Rudolphe Lindt invented the conching machine, which improved the texture and taste of chocolate.
Many chocolate companies had their start at the turn of 19th and 20th centuries, such like Lindt & Sprüngli, Nestlé, Cadbury or Hershey.
Nowadays, chocolate industry, focused on its sales and consumption, is a 50 bilion worth and steadily growing business.