After Spanish conquistadors came to Central America, cocoa beans were introduced to Spain, and a hot chocolate beverage became popular in the Spanish court. It took years for the chocolate craze to spread throughout Europe, and for centuries, chocolate remained a drink that only the wealthy could afford. Exclusive chocolate houses popped up in London, Amsterdam and beyond, some of which would also double as meeting places for political parties and centers for gambling.
Around the mid-1800’s, the different methods for consuming chocolate were beginning to develop. The process for obtaining cocoa powder was patented in the Netherlands in 1828, and in 1847, English confectioners found a way to make sweet, or eating, chocolate, which forms the base of most chocolate creations. Milk chocolate was created in Switzerland in 1876, and the world was well on its way to the mass production of chocolate that we know today.
In modern times, chocolate is no longer reserved for the rich. Chocolate manufacturing has become a booming industry in the United States alone, and now there is a variety of flavors and forms of chocolate on nearly every grocery store shelf. It is estimated that Americans eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year!