The Abridged History of Chocolate

April 03, 2018

cacao beans

Early Chocolate

Cacao was discovered in present-day Mexico as early as 1,900 B.C. Mesoamericans originally fermented, roasted, and ground the cocoa beans and mixed them with sweet ingredients to create a frothy chocolate beverage. Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations believed that chocolate had spiritual and mystical properties. Mayans worshipped a cacao god, and the Mayans traded cacao beans with the Aztecs as currency. 100 beans could purchase a turkey hen.

How It Spread

When the Spanish conquistadors left Mexico, they went back to Spain with cacao along with their other treasures. Cacao was a well-kept secret in Spain until a Spanish princess married a French king and brought her love of cacao with her. It spread throughout Europe from that point on.

Today’s chocolate

First chocolate company

Solid chocolate bars were created in 1847 by Joseph Fry. His company, J.S. Fry and Sons, was the world’s first chocolate company.

Fair trade chocolate

In 1994, Green & Black’s Maya Gold Chocolate became the world’s first certified Fair Trade chocolate. It was made with cocoa from Belize. Currently, fair trade chocolate only makes up 0.5% of the chocolate market. In 2016, 35,895,000 pounds of fair trade chocolate was imported to the U.S.

Chocolate statistics

Chocolate imports to U.S. in 2017: $1,275,546,000

Imports from countries and regions that Vineworks partners with:

  • Caribbean: $1,694,000
  • Sub-Saharan Africa: $72,440,000
  • India: $16,805,000
  • Peru: $10,233,000
**According to the U.S Census Bureau**


Feature photo by Graham Crumb/

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