History and socio-economic and cultural impact of chocolate


Human attraction and love for chocolate is ancient and widespread. Chocolate has a rich and varied history, from the ancient Maya civilization to modern times. Chocolate is important not only because of its taste, but also because of its history, culture and economic impact.

July 7 is celebrated as World Chocolate Day, marking the day chocolate first arrived in Europe. The day is an opportunity for chocolate lovers to enjoy their favorite dessert and learn more about its history and importance.

Chocolate originated in ancient Mesoamerica, where the Maya and Aztecs made chocolate from the cacao plant. They ground cacao beans to make the drink, which was quite bitter and often mixed with spices. The Mayans considered chocolate a gift from the gods and used it in religious rituals and social events. The Aztecs valued cacao beans as currency and used them as a drink for the rich and elite.

Chocolate was discovered by the Spanish conquistadors when they discovered the Americas in the early 1500s. They brought chocolate to Europe, where it quickly became popular. Initially, chocolate was used as a drink and its bitter taste was sweetened with honey or sugar. In Europe, chocolate became a luxury drink for the rich and the royal family, and it gradually spread through different countries.

In the mid-18th century, technological improvements changed the production process of chocolate. The invention of the cocoa press in 1828 made it possible to separate cocoa butter and cocoa powder, which was an important step on the way to making solid chocolate. In 1847, the British company Fry & Sons produced the first edible chocolate bar. Since then, chocolate has grown in popularity and has become a staple in a variety of desserts and snacks.

There are different types and preparation methods of chocolate, suitable for different tastes and uses. Dark chocolate is made with high cocoa content and low sugar, giving it a bitter taste. It usually contains 50% to 99% cocoa solids and is generally known for its taste and health benefits. Dark chocolate has antioxidant properties and can help improve heart health, brain function and mood.

Milk chocolate is sweeter and creamier than dark chocolate. It is made from cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar and milk or milk powder. Milk chocolate typically contains 20% to 50% cocoa solids and is a popular ingredient for a variety of desserts and snacks.

White chocolate is made with only cocoa butter, sugar and milk or milk powder without cocoa solids. This results in a sweet and creamy taste and is generally less bitter than dark and milk chocolate. Although white chocolate contains no cocoa solids, it is a popular ingredient for a variety of desserts and baked goods.

Antioxidants and flavonoids in dark chocolate may be beneficial for heart health. It can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that regular consumption of dark chocolate can help improve heart health.

Chocolate can help improve brain function and memory. The flavonoids and caffeine in chocolate can help increase blood flow to the brain and improve mental alertness. Some studies have shown that regular chocolate consumption may help reduce age-related brain degeneration.

Chocolate can help improve mood and reduce stress. Theobromine and phenylethylamine in chocolate may help increase the brain’s production of feel-good hormones. It can help improve mental health and help reduce depression and anxiety.

The chocolate industry has a large economic impact, especially for cocoa-producing countries. Cocoa cultivation is an important economic activity for many developing countries in the world.

The cocoa tree is mainly cultivated in West Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia. Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia are among the world’s largest cocoa producing countries. Cocoa farming provides livelihood opportunities to around 5 million farmers and their families.

The chocolate industry is a global trade activity and is a $100 billion industry. Millions of people are involved in cocoa production, processing and chocolate production and marketing in this industry. Economic impact of the chocolate industry constitutes a significant portion of the GDP of cocoa-producing countries.

Chocolate has a rich culture that is deeply intertwined with the traditions and customs of different countries. Chocolate festivals are held around the world, where chocolate lovers come together to enjoy different types of chocolate. These festivals serve as an important platform for showcasing innovations and new products in the chocolate industry.

Different countries have different traditions and customs related to chocolate. For example, Switzerland and Belgium are famous for making chocolate and have their own special types of chocolate. In Mexico, chocolate is used as part of ancient traditions and festivals.

The sweet taste and interesting texture of chocolate has made it a special place in Bangladesh as well as all over the world. Once known as a foreign dessert, this food item has now become readily available and popular in different parts of the country. There are various reasons behind the popularity of chocolate, such as globalization, economic development, changes in food habits and changing preferences of the younger generation.

Although the initial circulation of chocolate began during the British colonial period in Bangladesh, it was limited in scope and mainly confined to the rich and elite. After independence, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, the import of chocolate increased as Bangladesh’s economy opened up and international trade increased. Since then various international brands of chocolates started entering the country’s market.

Although initially most of the chocolate was imported, gradually local chocolate production started in Bangladesh. Local chocolatiers started to develop their own markets and marketed different types of chocolates. Several of them are able to produce high quality chocolates and they contribute to increasing the popularity of chocolates among the people of the country.

Along with the economic development of Bangladesh, the purchasing power of people has increased, which has helped to increase the demand for luxury food products. Increasing the standard of living of people living in urban areas and trying to diversify their eating habits is one of the reasons for the rise in popularity of chocolate.

Globalization has made various international brands of chocolate readily available in Bangladesh. Interest in foreign brands of chocolates has increased, especially among the younger generation. They are not only delicious but also popular as gifts.

Bangladeshi society has seen significant changes in food habits. Chocolate has become an important ingredient in festivals and special occasions. For example, the presence of chocolates has become almost mandatory on Eid, birthdays and weddings. It has become not just a dessert but also a symbol of social and cultural status.

The flavonoids and antioxidant compounds in chocolate may provide health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and improving brain function. However, consuming excess chocolate can lead to weight gain and other health problems, so moderation is advised.

Bangladesh’s local chocolate industry is expanding steadily, contributing significantly to the country’s economy. Local chocolate manufacturers are creating new jobs and diversifying the country’s economy. Besides, the import and sale of chocolate also helps in increasing the country’s trade.

As chocolate has grown in popularity, it has become an integral part of various social and cultural events. Chocolate is now not only a food but also a symbol of friendship and sincerity. Gifting and receiving chocolates has become a common social custom.

The prevalence and popularity of chocolate has increased significantly in Bangladeshi society. Due to globalization, economic development and cultural changes, chocolate has now taken an important place in the life of the people of the country. The development of the local chocolate industry and the presence of international brands have helped to increase the demand and popularity of chocolate. Chocolate is not just a dessert, it is now a social and cultural symbol, which brings joy and happiness to people’s lives.

World Chocolate Day 2024 provides a great opportunity to celebrate the history, culture, health benefits and economic impact of chocolate. Chocolate is a favorite dessert that holds a place in the hearts of millions of people around the world.

This special day is an occasion for chocolate lovers to enjoy their favorite dessert and learn more about its history and importance. The diverse history and influence of chocolate reminds us that it is not just a dessert, but a cultural and economic asset that has a profound impact on the lives of millions of people around the world.

Author: Researcher and developer

HR/JIM