Everywhere in the world there are tensions – economic, political, religious. So we need chocolate.Alain Ducasse
A food that encourages passion, many people would consider chocolate to be a gift to the world. Whether eaten in the form of a chocolate bar, enjoyed as a chocolate beverage or used to bake a variety of desserts, chocolate has a rich history and a bright future!
History of National Chocolate Day
Dating back more than 2000 years, chocolate seems to have originated in the Amazon where the cacao beans are made into a bitter-ish drink. Ancient Mayans and Olmecs of southern Mexico, as well as Aztecs were so enamored by the chocolate drink that some said that it must have come from the gods! Which is why it was likely used as a ceremonial drink at the time.
The name of the tree that produces the beans for making chocolate is Theobroma Cacao which, when translated, means “food of the gods”. It was named by taxonomist Carolus Linneaus who likely named it after the fact that Aztecs considered chocolate to have been something that was given by the gods.
By the time chocolate was discovered by Westerners in the New World and then made its way to Europe in the 1500s, it was something that was reserved for the wealthy and upper classes. It was not only enjoyed by them for taste reasons, but it had been discovered that the cocoa beans also had some health benefits!
Sugar was eventually added to the concoction and, as the product evolved over the next couple of centuries, it went from being only something that was made into a beverage but was developed into the eating chocolate that people enjoy today.
In the 19th century, along with the development of the industrial revolution, new processes came about that offered the opportunity to produce chocolate on a more regular basis. Of course, chocolate companies began cropping up in England, Europe and the United States. Fry & Sons created the world’s first chocolate bar in 1847.
Today, chocolate continues to be a huge industry, with cocoa beans grown in warm climates and exported to chocolate manufacturers all over the globe. Whether it’s the Hershey’s chocolate company in Pennsylvania, the Lindt company in Switzerland, or a smaller local chocolate company, it’s fun to enjoy access to this delicious treat.
Now it’s time to celebrate National Chocolate Day!
National Chocolate Day Timeline
Mayans enjoy chocolate
Even though it is used ritualistically as a drink, chocolate is not only saved for the wealthy and powerful but is likely enjoyed by common people. 
13th Century AD
Aztecs revere chocolate
Taking the love of chocolate to the next level, Aztecs use cacao beans as a currency.
First book devoted to chocolate
As the love for chocolate increases in Europe, a book is published in Mexico that is dedicated entirely to chocolate, “Libro en el cual se trata del chocolate”.
First chocolate factory in the US
Dr. James Baker and John Hannon start a chocolate factory in Massachusetts. 
Milk Chocolate is created
Before this time, chocolate was only dark but when a Swiss chocolatier adds powdered milk to the chocolate process, things change drastically.
How to Celebrate National Chocolate Day
National Chocolate Day offers tons of different opportunities to get involved with celebrating and enjoying the day! Consider trying out some of these fun and delicious ideas:
Take a Tour for National Chocolate Day
Have tons of fun learning all about how chocolate is made and, hopefully, get to take home some samples! Take a tour of a chocolate company like Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Or enjoy the Lindt Home of Chocolate located in Zurich, Switzerland.
Or one great place to learn a lot about the chocolate industry would be at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. With the country’s first educational bean-to-bar chocolate lab, the institute offers classes that teach all about the creative process of chocolate.
Learn Some Bits of Trivia About Chocolate
What could be a better day than National Chocolate Day to brush up on some fun facts related to chocolate? Plus, this would also be the perfect day to share a few bits of chocolate trivia with friends, in honor of the day! Get started with some of these facts:
One pound of chocolate requires 400 cocoa beans and each tree produces approximately 2500 beans, so one tree can make about 6 pounds of chocolate.
Cacao trees are very delicate and farmers typically count on losing up to 30% of their crop each year, so being a chocolate farmer is a volatile business!
Although cocoa beans seem to have originated in the New World, the most cocoa farms, around 70% of those in the world, are located in West Africa, with Cote d’Ivoire as the single largest producer of cocoa.
It takes approximately 4-5 years for a newly planted cacao tree to actually produce fruit, so it requires a great deal of patience from the chocolate farmers.
Share Chocolate with Friends
Any day worth celebrating is worth enjoying and sharing with friends! National Chocolate Day is a great time to pick up a variety of chocolates and make plans to share them. Choose some chocolate bars to pass around to coworkers at the office, or grab a box of chocolates to share with the family at home.
Got a big chocolate lover in your life? Perhaps send them a gift of chocolate in honor of this day. It’s easy to use this opportunity as an excuse to give a gift!
Try Chocolate in Some New Recipes
Though many people only think of chocolate as something that should be enjoyed as a sweet dessert, there are plenty of delicious recipes out there that include chocolate as part of the flavors of a savory dish.
Perhaps, in honor of National Chocolate Day, it would be fun to try adding a bit of chocolate to every meal of the day! Here are some ideas for savory chocolate dishes to get started with:
- Cocoa Rubbed Baby Back Ribs. Create a rub for ribs that includes warm spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and allspice, complemented with flavors of mustard and cocoa powder blended together.
- Chocolate Beef and Bean Chili. Chocolate has often been used as an ingredient in certain types of chili, and this one is super delicious as it is made with a chocolate stout beer, providing a unique flavor.
- Gascon-Style Beef Stew with Chocolate. This hearty, French-style stew offers the delicious flavors of chocolate, Armagnac, and Madiran wine – or Pinot Noir for a lighter version of the stew.
- Chicken with Poblano Mole Sauce. This most iconic mole sauce from Mexico offers flavors like ancho, pasilla and mulato chiles, along with warm spices and, of course, velvety smooth chocolate.
National Chocolate Day FAQs
Can chocolate go bad?
Though some chocolate does not have a use by date, it can start to get chalky or cracked on the surface and may not taste as good as when it was first made.
What is white chocolate?
White chocolate can be made from the cocoa butter but does not necessarily contain the cacao nibs.
Did chocolate come from the new world?
Yes, the first evidence of chocolate consumption seems to come from the Aztec and Mayan cultures in what is modern-day Mexico.
Did chocolate used to be expensive?
When it came to Europe in the 1500s, chocolate was an import that was only enjoyed among the wealthy and elite.
Is chocolate poisonous to cats?
Yes, just like dogs, cats should not eat chocolate because it contains theobromine, which can be toxic to pets.