The Industrial Revolution changed chocolate from a costly drink for the elite to an affordable food for the masses. In 1828 a Dutch chemist named Van Houten discovered a way to remove the cacao butter and pulverize the resulting chocolate cake to the fine powder we know as cocoa. Twenty years later an English Quaker named Joseph Fry found a way to mold chocolate into forms by mixing cocoa powder and sugar with cocoa butter. In 1867 Richard Cadbury, another English Quaker, introduced the first boxed chocolate candies and marketed them as special Valentine's Day gifts. That same year the Swiss chemist Henri Nestle discovered a process to make powdered milk by evaporation, and in 1879 Swiss chocolate maker Daniel Peter incorporated Nestle's powder in his chocolate making process. The result was the world's first milk chocolate
Who invented the common chocolate bar is a matter of sweet debate. French, Swiss and English candymakers were fabricating molded and filled chocolate candies all through the nineteenth century, but they were not mass-produced by the thousands at a price low income families could afford. That innovation seems to have occurred across the Atlantic on the continent where chocolate originated.
In the Canadian town of St. Stephen, New Brunswick the candymaking firm Ganong Bros., Inc., which is famous for its chocolate filled cinnamon candy straws called Chicken Bones, claims to have sold "the world's first five-cent chocolate bar." Local legend tells that founder Whidden Ganong designed a peanut-loaded paper-wrapped chocolate bar so he and a pal could share a quick fortifying snack while out duck hunting. Sure enough, the Pal Bar has been featured on the company's product list since 1898.
Whidden Ganong may indeed have been first to successfully package a chocolate bar, but it was the American marketing genius Milton S. Hershey whose name became synonymous with chocolate in North America. In 1900, Hershey invented an assembly line that cranked out chocolate almond bars by the thousands. Spurred on by his success, he devised a bite-sized foil-wrapped milk chocolate morsel and called it a Hershey's Kiss. It was a marketing stroke of genius that has never lost favor with the chocoholic public and now more than 25 million Kisses tumble down Milton's conveyor belts every day.
Another American, Jim Walsh, has scored the newest chocolate coup. Believing that chocolate, like wine, tastes different according to root stock, and the soil and climate in which it is grown, Walsh collected 130 cacao trees from around the world and planted them in different climatic zones in the rich volcanic soil on the Big Island of Hawaii. It marks the first time that chocolate is being made from cacao beans grown in the United States, and many experts agree that the subtle flavor notes and luscious finish establish it as the finest chocolate on earth.
Summing up any chocoholic's passion is simple. If chocolate cures melancholy, it must be divine. Surely, Quetzalcoatl would agree.