- The ancient Maya in Mesoamerica where the first to grow the cacao tree in their own backyard. They mixed the cacao paste with spices to obtain a bitter chocolate drink. Sugar was unavailable in Mesoamerica.
- Around 1400, chocolate was widely known in the Aztec empire. The drink became an important social and religious symbol – and a favorite drink for royals and people of honor. Chocolate was seen as a gift of the Gods.
- The Spanish Conquistadores under command of Cortes defeated the Aztecs in 1521. From then on, chocolate found its way to Europe.
The Spanish found the chocolate drink to bitter and started to add sugar, another expensive import, to the drink. Again, chocolate became the drink of the royalty and nobility, first in Spain, later on in the rest of Europe. A French law stated that only the aristocrats where allowed to drink chocolate. In other countries chocolate was available to everybody but it was still very expensive.
- By 1700 it became common to add milk to the chocolate.
- The industrial revolution made it easier and cheaper to transform the cacao beans into chocolate, with led in the 1800s to a chocolate revolution: everybody could now enjoy the delicious taste of chocolate.
- A Belgian invention at the beginning of the 20th century would cause another revolution: the filled chocolate made Belgium the centre of the chocolate world: Belgian chocolates became world famous for the delicious taste and the rich palette of flavors. Belgian chocolate has a very balanced taste and is for most people the ideal compromise between Swiss chocolate (too sweet), British chocolate (too creamy) and French chocolate (too bitter).
- During the 1970s big industrial chocolate producers wanted to lower the price for chocolate by adding vegetable fat instead of the cocoa butter: cacao butter is about 10 times more expensive than vegetable fat. This led to a European law that states that 5% of the cacao butter may be replaced by vegetable fat. This inferior product may still be called ‘chocolate’.
- The Belgians, known as the world best chocolate makes could not agree with this ’5% vegetable fat rule. By law, Belgian chocolate still has to be made with 100% cocoa butter and no added vegetable fat. This makes the Belgian chocolates of course more expensive but leads to a quality and a flavor that is unequaled.
- The know-how, the tradition and the use of pure chocolate have placed Belgium in a unique position. Hand made Belgian chocolates are the standard for any chocolate maker in the world.