Chocolate is the best accompaniment for almost any dish or occasion. Whether it’s dark chocolate or smooth milk chocolate; oozing from fondant or steaming from a mug; drizzled over creamy gelato or dusted atop pancakes — we love chocolate in every which way and form. If you love chocolate as much as we do, then make sure you don’t miss out on celebrating the decadent treat on World Chocolate Day on 7 July. To celebrate World Chocolate Day, here are five fun facts about chocolate you may not know.
1. Chocolate was used as currency in Mayan Times
In 2018 scientists discovered evidence to suggest that the Mayan civilisation may have used Cacao Beans as a form of currency. The Mayans are believed to be the first to discover chocolate and, like many early civilisations, ancient Mayans would barter and trade goods instead of using coins as money. However, a recent study revealed that chocolate became its own form of money at the height of Mayan opulence, giving it greater value and more ‘buying power’.
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2. Chocolate is Good for Your Health
We’ve got great news; chocolate can be good for your health! It is generally believed that the darker the chocolate, the greater the health benefits. Recent studies have shown that dark chocolate could prove to be good for helping boost our immune system, reducing inflammation and increasing brain activity. Chocolate is packed full of antioxidants, such as flavonoids, catechins, and polyphenol antioxidants — which all offer great health benefits.
3. Chocolate can help boost your memory
As if you needed more reason to consume chocolate, studies have also shown that chocolate may also help you focus, sharpen memory and protect your brain from ageing. Can it get any better? A study conducted by University of Nottingham researchers in 2012 found eating dark chocolate can boost blood flow to certain areas of the brain. This chocolate-fueled boost directly leads to increase performance in tasks and general alertness.
4. Chocolate grows on trees
While money may not grow on trees, chocolate sure does! Each cacao tree can produce 2,500 beans with approximately 3.8 millions of cacao beans growing a year. With such a high demand existing for chocolate, it’s important to help protect the environment by doing your bit to support cocoa suppliers who follow sustainable practices!
5. The first-ever chocolate bar was made in the UK
According to historians, the first-ever chocolate bar (as we know it today) was made in the UK. The first solid chocolate bar was produced by British company Fry and Son. The company made a chocolate called ‘Chocolat Délicieux à Manger’ in 1847. This was the first chocolate bar as we know it today, made from a mixture of cocoa powder and sugar with a little melted cocoa butter. The chocolate bar market has grown tremendously since then, and now, almost 200 years later, chocolate comes in many forms and is still one of the most-loved sweet treats across the globe.