As Earth Day 2015 approaches, we take you on a trip through history to explore the origins of chocolate. Learn how man derived it from the earth to create the sweet treat we all know and love today!
The Beverage of the Gods
Historical evidence of culinary chocolate dates back to 1900 BC. Indigenous peoples of pre-Colombian Mexico enjoyed a beverage called “xocoatll,” that they believed to be a gift from their gods. They consumed it as a bitter beverage, having little in common with the creamy, sweet concoctions that followed in its footsteps. In fact, the ancient society used cocoa beans as currency. The ancients often fermented and flavored Mesoamerican xocoatll with chiles and consumed it as a beverage.
Xocoatll Goes to Europe
Cocoa beans made their way to European shores after the discovery of the New World by Spanish explorers. Although Christopher Columbus secured cocoa beans on his fourth trip to the Americas and brought them back to Spain, European society initially ignored them. However, after Hernando Cortes brought back an abundant amount of cocoa beans from what is now called Central America, xocoatll rapidly became a favorite in the Spanish courts. Consumed as a beverage, they sweetened it with honey or sugar to dull its bitter bite. France was introduced to chocolate as a beverage in the early 1600s. It then made its way to England toward the latter part of that same century.
A Culinary Star is Born
It wasn’t until the 1800s that confectioners produced high quality chocolate and marketed it to the masses. During this time period, some producers of the finest chocolate available are great names that are still recognizable today. The name Asher’s is prominently figured in the culinary journey of xocoatll to gourmet chocolate.
A farm boy from Canada with Scottish heritage, Chester A. Asher, had a passion for chocolate from a young age. Adventurous and innovative, Chester was always looking for ways to make good things even better. He often wrote down recipes and ideas on sugar bags whilst working in his first confectionery in Center City, Pennsylvania. He began his lifetime commitment to creating the kind of finely-crafted quality chocolate delights that only a true culinary artist can provide.
The Asher Family Tradition Continues
Those who followed in Chester’s footprints shared his enthusiasm for creating the best possible product. Because they realized that the individual tastes and preferences of chocolate aficionados vary widely, they worked hard to craft a large line of delectable concoctions. From chocolate-covered pretzels, to nonpareils adorned with colored sprinkles, Asher’s has a chocolate treat for every palate. Even diabetics and others who prefer their chocolate sugar-free can find something satisfying at Asher’s — the company has been making sugar-free chocolates since the 1960s that taste every bit as sweet as their traditionally-made counterparts.
The culinary journey of chocolate has spanned seas, centuries, and cultures, but nonetheless, you can still taste dark, delicious hints of historic xocoatll in today’s gourmet chocolate products!