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Chocolate Bars

Did you know that chocolate was originally enjoyed as a drink?  That’s right, chocolate bars weren’t the original form of chocolate snacks.  Montezuma, the Aztec Emperor, was a big fan of chocolate drinks.  It was Cortez, the Spanish conquistador, who discovered the drink from the Aztecs and brought it back to Europe in the early 1500’s.  It spread like a wildfire among the social elite, and became a favorite across the entire continent of Europe.

It was not until 1875 that Henry Nestle teamed up with Daniel Peter to create the first milk chocolate.  From then on, chocolate had a stable solid form that could be enjoyed on the go.  Today, most chocolate products are solid, while less than a quarter of all products are liquid.

Chocolate in America got a kick-start at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.  Milton Hershey caught wind of the newest chocolate-making machines from Germany, and purchased some.  He installed the machinery in his factory and began producing chocolate a year later.  Other big producers like Cadbury began introducing nuts, almonds, caramel, and fruits to the mix.  The trend caught on and spread throughout the world.

Candy bars, as they were known then, were still not as popular as they were today.  It took the unfortunate circumstances of World War I to really bring chocolate to the forefront of snackers around the world.  The U.S. Army procured large blocks of chocolate for distribution to the men on the front line.  The blocks had to be chopped into smaller pieces for personal consumption, resulting in the demand for smaller portions.  When the war was over and the soldiers returned to America, the demand for chocolate in small pieces surged.  By the 1920’s, some 40,000 different candy bars were offered by retailers in America!

Most of the original manufacturers were based in the northeast.  Cities like Philadelphia, Boston, and New York were all big names in the chocolate industry.  Soon the production shifted west to shorten the supply routes for sugar, corn syrup, and milk.  Chicago became the big hotspot for candy bars and remains one of the major chocolate producers in America.

The trends in chocolate bars have followed the ebb and flow of American life.  Until recently, it was thought that bigger was better.  Manufacturers continually tried to one-up the competition by producing bigger and bigger bars.

It was only recently that the focus on health has significantly changed the marketing of chocolate bars.  These days, manufacturers are trying to update their product lines with smaller bars that can be broken into smaller pieces.