Interesting facts about Chocolate...

From the King's American Dispensatory's Monograph on Chocolate:

"Botanical Source —The genuine cacao tree is a small and handsome evergreen tree, growing in South America and the West Indies, from 12 to 25 feet high, and branching at the top; when cultivated it is not allowed to grow so high. The stem is erect, straight, 4 to 6 feet high; the wood light and white; the bark thin, somewhat smooth, and brownish. The seeds are numerous, compressed, 1 inch long, reddish-brown externally, dark-brown internally, and imbedded in a whitish, sweetish, buttery pulp.

Source, History, and Preparation — This tree was extensively cultivated in Mexico, Central and South America for many years, indeed long before the discovery of America, and at one time formed the currency of the natives, who made an immense consumption of it in various ways. At present it is chiefly cultivated in Brazil, Costa Rica, Guayaquil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Guatemala, the. island of Trinidad, and most of the other West India Islands; also in Africa, Ceylon, Samoa, and other parts of the globe.

The cocoa or chocolate nuts of commerce are the seed taken from the fruit and deprived of a slimy covering. There are many varieties of this seed brought into the market, named, according to the place from which they have been imported, e. g., Puerto Cabello, Cauca, Maracaibo, Caracas, Surinam, Java, Domingo, Bahia, etc.

Cacao seeds are prepared for commerce either by simple drying, in which case they retain their bitterness and astringency; or they are cured by a sweating process by which their bitter and astringent properties are much modified, and the color of the seed changed. The seeds are placed into closed boxes for a certain length of time, or buried in the ground for a few days; the best process is to allow the seeds to lie for a week in heaps covered with green leaves, such as plantain leaves, etc., after which time they are dried. Also see directions given by W. Cradwick, of Jamaica, for curing cacao seeds on a domestic scale, in Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1895, p. 530.

Chemical Composition — Cacao seeds contain fat (40 to 50 per cent) (oil of cacao, cacao butter; see Oleum Theobromatis), the base theobromine (C7H8N4O2), small quantities of caffeine (theine), starch (from 1.3 to 7.5 per cent, Ridenour, Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1895, p. 209), a red coloring matter (cacao-red), albuminous matter (6 to 18 per cent), and ash (2 to 4 per cent), etc.

In 18 commercial specimens of cacao, A. Eminger (Forschungsberichte über Lebensmittel, 1896, p. 275; also see Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1897, p. 113) found theobromine to vary from 0.88 to 2.34 per cent, caffeine from 0.05 to 0.36 per cent. According to E. Knebel (1892), the presence of cacao-red is due to the decomposition of a glucosid under the influence of a diastatic ferment, resulting in dextrose, cacao-red. theobromine. and caffeine (compare Kola).

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage — CHOCOLATE, when scraped into a coarse powder, and boiled in milk, or milk and water, is much used as an occasional substitute for coffee, and for a drink at meals. It is a very useful nutritive article of diet for invalids, persons convalescing from acute diseases, and others with whom its oily constituent does not disagree, as is apt to be the case with dyspeptics.

BUTTER OF CACAO is a bland article, rather agreeable to the taste, and highly nutritious; it has been used as a substitute for, or an alternate with, cod-liver oil, and as an article of diet during the last days of pregnancy. It has also been employed in the formation of suppositories and pessaries, for rectal, vaginal, and other difficulties (see Suppositories). It likewise enters into preparations for rough or chafed skin, chapped lips, sore nipples, various cosmetics, pomatums, and fancy soaps; and has also been used for coating pills.

Theobromine when absorbed acts powerfully as a diuretic, and has a stimulant or exciting action which is not possessed by chocolate itself. It is, however, quite difficult of absorption, and is without effect upon the heart and circulation. It enters into the compound known as Diuretin, which, in certain conditions, is an active diuretic."

ETHNOBOTANY: WORLDWIDE USES Dominican Republic Diuretic, Kidney Elsewhere Antiseptic, Burn, Emmenagogueue, Eye, Liqueur, Parturition, Wound

Ghana Cough, Dentifrice Haiti Burn, Dry-Lip , Rheumatism Japan Suppository-Base La Coffee, Liqueur Mexico Bite(Snake), Wound Panama Antiseptic, Eye, Listlessness, Parasiticide, Pregnancy Venezuela Alopecia, Pilatory

Quoted References

  1. Theobroma cacao L. Sterculiaceae. "Cacao", "Chocolate". Cultivated. The pulp of fruit edible. Food uses of chocolate, made from the seed, are well known (RVM). Not so well known is the fact that much cocoa butter ends up in suppositories. Leaf infusion widely used as cardiotonic and diuretic in Colombia (SAR). "Karijona" use toasted seed with manihot squeezings for a scalp condition like eczema. "Ingano" use the bark decoction as a wash for sarna (SAR). Theobromine and theophylline, like caffeine, all found in this plant, used in modern medicine as antiasthmatic (JAD). We are cooperating with one entrepreneur seeking a "lean green cacao bean" for renewable "organic low-fat rainforest chocolate".

CHOCOLATE FACTS from WTVC News channel


Chocolate is made from the seeds of a plant called Theobroma cacao. The seeds are dried and roasted and then processed to form cocoa, the basic ingredient in chocolate and chocolate products. The use of cocoa for eating and drinking probably dates back several thousand years. The first evidence of cocoa use comes from cooking vessels containing cocoa residue. Scientists have determined these pots to be from at least 460 to 480 A.D.

Columbus discovered cacao beans in America and sent samples back to King Ferdinand. However, the beans didn't become popular in Europe at this time. Several years later, Cortes discovered that the Mexican Aztecs enjoyed a type of bitter chocolate drink containing burned and ground cacao beans, maize, water, and spices. Cortes sent cacao beans and recipes back to King Charles V. The Spanish refined some of the recipes -- adding sugar and heating the ingredients to improve taste and texture. But because of the high cost of imported cacao, chocolate beverages were enjoyed mostly by the wealthy.

By 1828, the cocoa press was developed. The press enabled workers to extract cocoa butter from the cacao bean. Ground roasted beans and sugar were added to the cocoa butter to produce dark "eating" (solid) chocolate. The first commercially prepared dark chocolate was produced in about 1847. Milk chocolate, made with the addition of dried milk solids, was developed by the Swiss in about 1876.

Some brands of imported and domestic chocolate contain very refined chocolate and fillings and are very expensive. Still, less expensive varieties of chocolate are widely available -- making chocolate a very popular confection. The average American consumes nearly 11 pounds of chocolate each year. Men aged 12 to 19 consume the most amount of chocolate. Women aged 30 to 39 are the next largest group of chocolate consumers.


For some people, the lure of chocolate can be overwhelming. Cocoa contains certain chemicals and sensory properties that make the product very appealing. Cocoa contains theobromine (a chemical related to caffeine). The sugar in chocolate releases serotonin (a brain chemical related to a positive sense of well-being). The smooth, rich taste of chocolate (and sometimes the fillings) provides sensory pleasure to the taste buds. In addition, many people use chocolate as a reward and learn to associate the product with positive self-esteem. In spite of its physical properties, chocolate is not a physically addictive food. However, some people may find themselves psychologically addicted to chocolate.

Chocolate does have some downsides. A single ounce of chocolate contains about 150 calories and 9 to 10 grams of fat; 65 percent of the calories in chocolate come from fat. But there are ways to reduce the amount of fat and still enjoy chocolate. Cocoa powder can be substituted for chocolate in many recipes. A tablespoon of powdered cocoa contains only about 16 calories; less than 30 percent of its calories comes from fat. Use three tablespoons of cocoa

and one tablespoon of a healthy cooking oil for each ounce of chocolate needed in a recipe. A chocolate glaze can be made with some cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, and skim milk. Manufacturers have even developed some good quality low-fat chocolate desserts.