The story of chocolate

Master chocolatier Tom Cinnamon at his North Vancouver shop Photo: Glenn Baglo, The Vancouver Sun

Master chocolatier Tom Cinnamon at his North Vancouver shop
Photo: Glenn Baglo, The Vancouver Sun

Adapted from The Vancouver Sun

Level 3
February 2011

Chocolate comes from the beans of a cacao* fruit tree.
The cacao bean is the seed of the fruit.
*(say: ka-kow)
Cacao trees can grow 15 metres high.
The trees grow in tropical rain forests.


A spicy drink in South and Central America
The Mayans discovered the secret of cacao.
By 1400, the Aztecs ground cacao beans into a powder,
which they mixed with local spices such as chilies.
These people believed that drinking chocolate would bring health,
power and wisdom.
The popular cacao beans were also rare.
Therefore, they could be used like money to trade for other things.
For example:

  • 1 cacao bean = 20 tomatoes
  • 30 cacao beans = 1 small rabbit

A sweet drink in Europe
Explorers who went to South America brought cacao beans
back to Europe in the 1500s. Europeans added sugar and honey.
Vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon were also added later.
Hot chocolate became a favourite drink.

Chocolate bars
The first chocolate bars were made in 1847 in England.
Thirty years later, milk was added to chocolate bars in
Switzerland and the U.S.

B.C.’s oldest chocolate companies

  • Rogers’ Chocolates started making chocolates in 1885 in Victoria.
  • Purdy’s Chocolates opened in 1907 in Vancouver.
A cacao fruit tree Photo: Public domain

A cacao fruit tree
Photo: Public domain

Cacao beans Photo: Public domain

Cacao beans
Photo: Public domain

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *