Simply Delicious

There’s nothing wrong with chocolate. Absolutely nothing. It smells good. Looks good. Tastes good. It can be made into endless shapes and will bring smiles to the faces of those who partake. And now real chocolate fans can even wear it. Like that yummy chocolate cake dripping with chocolate t-shirt eight rows down. BUY HERE. And that cool red m&m’s face t-shirt next to it. BUY HERE. Or that awesome m&m’s t-shirt on the next line. BUY HERE. And my geeky chocolate loving friends might like the chocolate molecule shirt. BUY HERE. I might buy this chocolate chip cookie mouse pad but I’m afraid of putting on 10 pounds just looking at it. BUY HERE.  And there’s nothing like hot chocolate on a cold winter’s day in a Kowalski mug that you could win—see details at the end of this email. I do like m&m’s, which might be the greatest invention of all time. I’m especially partial to the red ones.  :)))

First off, Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone.  Like most holidays that involve food, fun and good tidings, VD is at the top of my list – (until St. Patty’s Day rolls around).  It’s such a nice tradition, started back in the year 496 – a very old tradition, thought to have originated from a Roman festival called Lupercalia in the middle of February – officially the start of their springtime.  For me, spending time with Jackie and sending love to my girls, son’s in law, and granddaughter,  is the best.  Of course, Valentines Day is not so much without CHOCOLATE!  Milk, dark, white, bars, kisses, syrup, ice cream, cake – all good. Below is a little history, fun facts and trivia you’re sure to delight your loved ones.  Enjoy, and thanks to Google and factretriever.com for the info.

The first people to harvest chocolate were the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec peoples who lived in southeast Mexico around 1000 B.C. The word “chocolate” is derived from the Mayan word xocolatl, or “bitter water.”

Although cacao originated in Central and South America more than 4,000 years ago, today approximately 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in Africa. Cote d’lvoire is the single largest producer of cocoa, providing roughly 40% of the world’s supply.

The cacao tree’s botanical name is Theobroma Cacao, which means “food of the gods” (they sure go this one right!!) in Greek.  From the beginning, chocolate has traditionally been associated with magical, medicinal, and mythical properties.  Cacao has been around for millions of years and is probably one of the oldest of nature’s foods.

Nearly all cacao trees grow within 20 degrees of the equator, and 75% grow within 8 degrees of either side of it. Cacao trees grow in three main regions: West Africa, South and Central America, and Southeast Asia/Oceania.

Each cacao tree can produce approximately 2,500 beans. It takes a cacao tree four to five years to produce its first beans and it takes approximately 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.  The trees can live to be 200 years old, but they produce marketable cocoa beans for only 25 years.

Ninety percent of modern cacao is made from a type of cacao called forastero (foreigner). However, before the 1800s, cacao was made from a type of bean called criollo. Even though forastero does not taste as good as criollo, it is easier to grow.

The English chocolate company Cadbury made the first chocolate bar in the world in 1842. George Cadbury, a Quaker, amassed a great fortune producing drinking chocolate as an alternative to alcohol. Cadbury hoped chocolate would tempt people away from alcohol.

In 1875, Swiss Daniel Peter discovered a way of mixing condensed milk, manufactured by his friend Henri Nestlé, with chocolate to create the first milk chocolate.

In 1879, Swiss Rodolphe Lindt discovered conching, an essential process in refining chocolate. He discovered it by accident when his assistant left a machine running all night.

Hershey Kisses were first introduced in 1907 and, Hershey’s produces over 70 million chocolate Kisses–every day. The largest and oldest chocolate company in the U.S. is Hershey’s. Hershey’s produces over one billion pounds of chocolate product annually.

The first chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1937 by Ruth Wakefield who ran the “Toll House Inn.” The term “Toll House” is now legally a generic word for chocolate chip cookie. It is the most popular cookie worldwide and is the official cookie of Massachusetts.

Red wine typically compliments chocolate the best (try it!) Champagne and sparkling wine are too acidic to go well with dark chocolate, but not so bad with white chocolate.

Reports predict that the global chocolate market will grow to over $100 billion from $83.2 billion in 2010.

German chocolate cake was named after Sam German, an American, and did not originate in Germany

Dark chocolate has been shown to be beneficial to human health, SEE I KNEW IT WAS A HEALTH FOOD!

The largest cuckoo clock made of chocolate can be found in Germany.

Research suggests that dark chocolate boosts memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. Studies have also found that dark chocolate can improve the ability to see in low-contrast situations (such as poor weather) and promote lower blood pressure, which has positive effects on cholesterol levels, platelet function, and insulin sensitivity.  AGAIN WITH ALL OF THESE HEALTH BENEFITS!

Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (Montezuma II), the 9th emperor of the Aztecs, was one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the world. He was also known as The Chocolate King. At the height of his power, he had a stash of nearly a billion cacao beans.

The country whose people eat the most chocolate is Switzerland, with 22 pounds eaten per person each year. Australia and Ireland follow with 20 pounds and 19 pounds per person, respectively. The United States comes in at 11th place, with approximately 12 pounds of chocolate eaten by each person every year.

U.S. chocolate manufacturers use about 3.5 million pounds of whole milk every day to make milk chocolate.

Americans collectively eat 100 pounds of chocolate every second.

In 2008, Thorntons in London created the world’s largest box of chocolates at 16.5 feet tall and 11.5 feet wide. The box contained over 220,000 chocolates and weighed 4,805 pounds. Previously, the record was held by Marshall Field’s in Chicago with a box containing 90,090 Frango mint chocolates and weighing a whopping 3,326 pounds.

The most expensive chocolate in the world is the “Madeleine” and was created by Fritz Knipschildt of Knipschildt Chocolatier in Connecticut.

Belgium produces 172,000 tons of chocolate per year. Over 2,000 chocolate shops are found throughout the country, many located in Brussels where Godiva chocolate originated.

Owing to the nature of cacao butter, chocolate is the only edible substance that melts at around 93° F, just below body temperature. This means that after placing a piece of chocolate on your tongue, it will begin to melt.  Left in the car during the summer … well, you know!

In some parts of Latin America, the beans were used as a currency as late as the 19th century.

The first machine-made chocolate was produced in Barcelona, Spain, in 1780.

According to Italian researchers, women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life than those who do not. They also had higher levels of desire, arousal, and satisfaction from sex.

One chocolate chip can give a person enough energy to walk 150 feet. (This makes total sense to me – one package of Toll House cookies helps me run around the block!)

A Hershey’s bar was dug up after 60 years from Admiral Richard Byrd’s cache at the South Pole. Having been frozen all those years, it was still edible.

Chocolate melting in a person’s mouth can cause a more intense and longer-lasting “buzz” than kissing. Hershey’s Kisses were first produced in 1907 and were shaped like a square. A new machine in 1921 gave them their current shape.  Putting a Hershey’s kiss in your mouth, and then kissing, we’ll – buzz, buzz, buzz.

A lethal dose of chocolate for humans is about 22 pounds, which is about 40 Hershey bars.  (good tip, as I usually stop at about 35).