Fun Facts About Chocolate

What Is It?

-It takes 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate.
-Each cacao tree produces approximately 2,500 beans.
-Research to date supports that chocolate can be enjoyed as part of a balanced, heart-healthy diet and lifestyle.
-The average serving of milk chocolate has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of decaf coffee.
-Because cacao trees are so delicate, farmers lose, on average, 30 percent of their crop each year.
-Studies have demonstrated that one of the major saturated fats in chocolate does not raise cholesterol like other hard fats–meaning chocolate can be enjoyed in moderation.
-Chocolate comes from a fruit tree; it’s made from a seed.
-Theobroma Cacao is the tree that produces cocoa beans, and it means “food of the gods.” Carolus Linnaeus, the father of plant taxonomy, named it.

Where Is It From?

-There are an estimated 1.5 million cocoa farms in West Africa.
-Most cocoa–70 percent–hails from West Africa.
-Cocoa is raised by hand, on small, family-owned farms.
-Cacao leaves can move 90 degrees, from horizontal to vertical, to get sun and to protect younger leaves.
-Some cacao trees are more than 200 years old, but most give marketable cocoa beans for only the first 25 years.
-The average size of a cocoa farm in West Africa is 7 to 10 acres.
-Rudolph Lindt designed the first conching machine, its bed curved like a conch shell.
-Cote d’Ivoire is the single largest producer of cocoa, providing roughly 40 percent of the world’s supply.
-Through some programs supported by industry and partners including foundations and governments, farmers are now earning between 20 percent and 55 percent more from their crops.
-Most cocoa farms are not owned by the companies that make chocolate.

Who Depends On It?

-Benjamin Franklin sold chocolate in his print shop in Philadelphia.
-The price of cocoa can fluctuate daily–affecting farmers’ incomes.
-Cacao beans were so valuable to early Mesoamericans that they were used as currency.
-The average West African cocoa family has eight members.
-An Indonesian cocoa farming community built a giant statue of hands holding a cocoa pod.
-In addition to tending cacao trees, family members may harvest bananas or other fruit crops.
-The ancients also fermented the pulp of the cacao pod to make other beverages.
-In November, Germans celebrate St. Martin–a knight who shared his cloak with a beggar–with a lantern-lit parade, sweets and steaming hot chocolate.
-Worldwide, 40 million to 50 million people depend upon cocoa for their livelihood.
-Spanish royalty gave cakes of cacao in their dowries.
-The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 cups of cacao a day from a golden chalice.

Savor It

-It takes two to four days to make a single-serving chocolate bar.
-Chocolate contains two doses of cocoa butter—the natural amount from the bean, plus an extra dollop to bump up creaminess.
-Cacao percentage determines the amount of cocoa bean products by weight in a chocolate.
-“Cacao” is how you say “cocoa” in Spanish.
-Champagne and sparkling wines are too acidic to pair well with milk or dark chocolate. Try pairing a sweet bubbly with white chocolate and red wine with dark. In general you want to match the sweetness level of the wine with the sweetness level of the chocolate.
-Some cocoa certification programs are modeled on success with a similar product–coffee.
-Chocolate can make dogs and cats ill–meaning no tastings for your furry friend, and more for you.
-A farmer must wait four to five years for a cacao tree to produce its first beans.
-German chocolate cake was named for Sam German, who developed a sweet bar for Baker’s Chocolate–and was not from Germany.
-The French celebrate April Fool’s Day with chocolate-shaped fish, or “Poisson d’Avril.”