How many times have you grabbed a piece of chocolate or a chocolate candy bar from one of the many snack vending machines you encounter each day? Probably more than you can count.
There’s nothing more satisfying than a piece of chocolate to help you get through the mid-day slump or to just treat yourself. If you find yourself reaching for some chocolate on a regular basis, you are not alone. Americans consume almost 3 billion pounds of chocolate each year. That’s about 22 pounds of chocolate per person. If that number shocks you it might make you feel better to learn that Europeans consume much more than that!
The people of Switzerland consume approximately double the amount of chocolate Americans consume each year with about 22 pounds eaten per person in a 12-month period. Australia comes in a close second at 20 pounds per person, followed by Ireland at 19 pounds. Americans actually come in 11th place.
But there is so much more to know about chocolate than just the amount people consume. What follows are some interesting facts you may not know:
- The first chocolate bar was made in 1842 by Cadbury.
- About 70 percent of the millions of dollars spent on candy leading up to Easter is used to purchase chocolate.
- Chocolate was traditionally believed to have magical or mythical properties.
- The word chocolate is derived from the Mayan word for bitter water.
- Chocolate was one of the earliest American exports. Christopher Columbus brought the cacao beans used to make chocolate back to Spain in the 16th century.
- Dark chocolate has been shown to contain health benefits. However, it must have cacao or chocolate liquor listed as its first ingredient in order to contain these benefits.
- The first milk chocolate was created in 1875 when condensed milk was mixed with chocolate.
- While chocolate has a bad reputation for causing acne, a connection has never been proven. In reality, some researcher believe flavonoids in chocolate absorb UV light which help protect and increase blood flow to the skin, improving the skin’s appearance!
- Studies show that people suffering from depression eat more chocolate than those that don’t.
- The first chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1937 by Ruth Wakefield of the Toll House Inn.
- It takes about 400 cacao beans to make a pound of chocolate. About 3.8 tons of cacao beans are produced annually.