CHOCOLATE DAY!

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Enjoy this day by eating a proper amount of chocolate without remorse and guilt! Chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world. Chocolate chip cookies have become very common and very popular in most parts of Europe, as well as North America. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes have become traditional on certain holidays. Chocolate is also used to produce chocolate milk and hot chocolate.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the dried and partially fermented seeds of the cacao tree, a small evergreen tree native to the deep tropical region of the Americas. Roughly two-thirds of the entire world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, with 43% sourced from Côte d’Ivoire, where child labor is a common practice to obtain the product. According to the World Cocoa Foundation, some 50 million people around the world depend on cocoa as a source of livelihood.

Several types of chocolate can be distinguished. Pure, unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining chocolate with sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk.

The health effects of chocolate refer to the possible beneficial physiological effects of eating chocolate. For example, cocoa and dark chocolate may support cardiovascular health. Other effects under preliminary research include reduced risks of cancer. (from www.cute-calendar.com)

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National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

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June 7th is National Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Chocolate ice cream is the second most common flavor of ice cream, after vanilla, even though it was created first.

The flavor has been in existence since 1750 BC in Mexico, having been found at a pre-Olmec archaeological site. The Mayans were drinking chocolate around 400 AD. By the 15th Century, the Aztecs gained control of a large part of Mesoamerica and adopted cacao into their culture.  Although Columbus took cacao beans with him back to Spain, chocolate made no impact until Spanish friars introduced it to the Spanish Court.  After the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, the chocolate was imported to Europe, and until 1800 chocolate was a rare and exotic dessert enjoyed mostly by the elite.

I won’t bore you with the details of ridding chocolate of its bitterness or inventing a press to remove about half the natural fat (cocoa butter), but these innovations introduced the modern era of less expensive chocolate. A Swiss chocolatier invented milk chocolate by mixing a powdered milk developed by Henri Nestle. Cadbury manufactured boxed chocolates in England by 1862 and in 1903, Milton S. Hershey purchased chocolate pressing equipment at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and soon began the career of Hershey’s chocolates with chocolate-coated caramels. (from Wikipedia and me) (July 7th is National Chocolate Day….or at least one of them)