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The True History of Chocolate

Michael and Sophie Coe

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1828 beginning of modern era of chocolate - Dutch chemist Conrad Houten patented new method manufacturing powdered choc with very low fat content. Used a very efficient hydraulic press which produced a fine powder - what we know as cocoa. treated with sodium and potassium so powder would dissolve in hot water to produce a darker and milder drink.

Two separate Quaker families - Fry and Cadbury - took this invention and used Watt's steam engine to mass produce solid chocolate. Mixed cocoa with cocao butter and sugar instead of water, producing a paste which cd be cast into a mould.

Henry Nestlé, a Swiss chemist in 1867 discovered a process to make powdered milk by evaporation. Then another Swiss, Daniel Peter, mixed the milk powder with cacao butter, which was then poured into a mould - the milk chocolate bar was born. A third Swiss, Rudolphe Lindt, invented 'couching', a process where chocolate was rolled back and forth for 72 hours, producing a very smooth chocolate. The final step was 'tempering' hwere choc heated and then slowly cooled to stop the fat crystalising.

In the hills of southern Pennsylvania is town of Hershey. Main streets Chocolate and Cacao, side streets are named after the ports where the cacao beans came from - Caracas, Granada, Trinidad, Java and Ceylon. Milton Snavely Hershey built a town with milk choc and cacao factories, a school for orphan boys, the Hershey Department Store, the Hershey Bank, free library, men's and women's clubs, five churches and two schools. Surrounded by 8000 acres of Hershey-owned dairy farms to supply 60,000 gallons of milk a day for the factories.

To supply sugar, Hershey built Hershey, Cuba, and two modern electric railroads, which also carried passengers. The town was confiscated by Fidel Castro in the 1959 revolution, but the railway still runs.

Most popular are Hershey's Kisses - 25 million produced a day. The streetlights of the town are the shape of Kisses.

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