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Discover More Than Just Sweets on World Chocolate Day July 7th

04 July 2024

Discover More Than Just Sweets on World Chocolate Day July 7th

Most of us don’t need an excuse to eat a bit of chocolate, but you might want to treat yourself that bit more on World Chocolate Day on July 7th! Although it’s celebrated globally it was largely established in line with the introduction of chocolate to Europe way back in 1550.

Even though we may enjoy a nibble of chocolate without much thought, like a lot of modern commodities, it has a pretty dark history. Before it arrived in Europe, it was limited to parts of South and Central America and Mexico. It wasn’t until British and European colonists came to these regions that this sweet, addictive substance made its way to British shores. But at first, it wasn’t consumed in its physical form.

Chocolate increased in popularity as a drink in the 1600s in England and France after Spain invaded the Americas. It would take until the 1800s for it to begin to be sold in physical form, resembling vaguely what we consume today, but it would have been an expensive treat reserved for the wealthy until the 1900s and in the post war period after rationing placed restrictions on ingredients such milk - key for chocolate production.

Today, we are lucky enough to have an abundance of chocolate in unlimited varieties to enjoy, but this wasn't always the case so it's worth reflecting on this fascinating part of food history. With that in mind, here are some fun and quirky facts you probably didn’t know about the origins of your favourite sweet treats:

  1. Chocolate was not just a tasty drink in the Aztec culture, it was also used as currency where people paid for food, taxes and clothes with cocoa beans
  2. A whopping 30% of the world’s cocoa is grown in Africa, but cocoa beans actually originate in the Amazon.
  3. Milk Chocolate was invented in 1875
  4. In ancient times, the name for chocolate – cocoa bean – plants were “Theobroma Cacao.” This name translates to “Food of the Gods.” Clearly, this is one of the cool facts about chocolate.

It’s safe to say you’ll probably feel a bit differently when you next reach for a chocolate-y snack!

  • Health benefits of eating chocolate

Chocolate? Healthy? How can it be? Chocolate is one of those foods we all know we should eat in moderation, however, dark chocolate has been proven to have some interesting health benefits.

Unlike milk or white chocolate, it’s loaded with a high cocoa content meaning it’s packed full with antioxidants and minerals which can help improve the function of your liver and even your heart. Cocoa flavonoids help to stimulate the endothelium - the lining of the arteries - to protect against the oxidation of LDL (low-density lipoproteins or bad cholesterol).

What’s more, some studies have even shown that eating dark chocolate in moderation can improve brain function as cocoa flavonoids positively impact attention, verbal learning and memory. So, next time you reach for a bar of 70% Lindt dark chocolate, there’s no need to feel guilty. In fact, in moderation, it could be benefiting your overall health.

  • Celebrate with a Chocolate Experience

Is there a better way to celebrate International Chocolate Day than to try a Chocolate Making Experience, or what about partaking in a Chocolate Themed Treasure Hunt? Everything is on the table for chocolate lovers, and with an Experiences UK Gift Voucher, you have the opportunity to choose from a range of chocolate-y days out and attractions across the country.

Additionally, it’s very probable that you know someone in your life who is obsessed with chocolate. If they have a birthday coming up, or you just want to treat them to a special experience, why not book them in for a Chocolate Experience? After all, it beats eating a share bag of Cadbury Dairy Milk buttons all to themselves (although that’s always a good idea, lets face it!)

As part of our Food and Drink Experiences, we offer a range of chocolate craft workshops, where you can learn about the crafting process from start to finish and even create your own chocolate recipe! This would be a once in a life time memorable experience for a chocoholic, and not only that, you get to take home your chocolates with you!

If it’s not just chocolate that makes their taste buds sing, why not try a class learning how to make fondants, soufflés, and perfecting trifles and chocolate cheesecakes? Everything is on the table for chocolate lovers, and with an Experiences UK Gift Voucher, you can even give the recipient the opportunity to choose their own chocolate day!

Chances are, the chocolate lover you're thinking of is probably a foodie too. Luckily for you, we also offer a range of Cookery Lessons across the UK. So why not have a browse through to see just how to cook up a storm and learn a new set of skills whilst you're at it.

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