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Food & History

Chocolate had a long, rocky road

The next time you stop for a favorite chocolate bar, think — about the many problems science had to solve to give you this tasty treat. — It took about three centuries.

It started with Cortez. When he conquered Mexico in 1521, — he was served a frothy beverage the Aztecs called "cacaolatl." Cortez — introduced chocolate to Spain.

For the next century, hot chocolate reigned supreme as — the favorite non-alcoholic beverage in Europe. Coffee was still a closely — guarded secret of the Muslim states. It did not come to Europe until the — 1650's. Tea from the Far East was almost unknown. The chocolate monopoly — was unchallenged.

Efforts to capitalize on its popularity by producing a — chocolate candy failed. Chocolate, milk and sugar bonded to make hot chocolate. — When only sugar and chocolate were mixed all you got was a bitter, crumbly — loaf nobody wanted to eat.

This changed in 1828. In Amsterdam, C.J. van Houten used — a screw press on a pile of roasted cocoa beans. The pressure separated — the oil (cocoa butter) from a fine, dark powder. Van Houten began to ship — tins of this powder, cocoa, to markets around the globe. The cocoa butter — was discarded. It would be years before science learned how to turn this — oil into medicinal or cosmetic products.

In 1847 the British candy firm of Fry and Sons recombined — some of this oil with sugar and produced a sweet tasting but slightly — bitter dark chocolate bar. It had limited appeal.

The big breakthrough was in Switzerland in 1849. Daniel — Peters, who worked for Nestle Company, combined 12 percent cocoa butter — and 20 percent milk solids with sugar, spices and preservatives to create — milk chocolate. That is still the recipe used for fine chocolate.

The first chocolate factory in the United States opened — in Massachusetts in 1765, to roast and grind cocoa beans for the colonies. — However, the man who is known as the "Henry Ford of chocolate," because — he introduced Ford's assembly line system to lower the cost by mass producing — candy, was born in Derry Township, Pa. His name was Milton Hershey.

In 1904, Hershey sold his caramel business and built a — chocolate factory in a cornfield near his home. He was convinced that — chocolate bars were the wave of the future. He was right. His vision also — led to the creation and naming of a new city.

A town grew up around the factory. It needed a name to — apply for a federal post office. Hershey sponsored a contest with a $100 — prize for the best entry. The winning entry was Hersheykoko but the Post — Office Department refused to accept the long title. They accepted the — truncated name of Hershey, Pa.

Hershey's empire prospered, even during World War II, — when labor and material shortages cut back commercial production. Hershey — contracted with the government to produce especially formulated chocolate — bars that would not melt in a soldier's pocket. They contained 600 calories — of quick energy. These were Field Rations, D, but the GI's called them — D Bars. Half a million D Bars were produced hourly, 24 hours a day, until — the war ended.

If you have grown tired of the same old hot cocoa, try — some Mexican Chocolate. It has a unique, zesty flavor.


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Combine milk, chocolate and cinnamon in saucepan. Bring — to boil, stirring constantly until chocolate melts. Remove from heat, — take out cinnamon sticks. Add vanilla and beat with egg whisk. Serve.