American Chocolate Week is celebrated during the third full week of March every year. This year, the week will be celebrated from March 17 to 23, but we wish it was celebrated every week. Remember that time your friend offered you a piece of chocolate and you turned it down? Us neither. Let’s be real, you can try all the gold-plated, caviar-coated, truffle sprinkled food in the world but none of these things come even close to how good chocolate can be. This versatile food can be had on almost every occasion and for any meal. If anyone dares question why you’re eating an entire Hershey’s bar for breakfast just tell them it’s the patriotic thing to do. It’ll work, trust us. After all, what better excuse to consume ungodly amounts of chocolate than a whole week dedicated to it?
History of American Chocolate Week
Chocolate is made from beans of the cacao tree which is found mainly in remote areas of West Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central and South America. Cacao beans, however, are bitter and must be fermented to develop the flavor. After this, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cocoa nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass, from which chocolate can take on many avatars.
But we must travel back 4,000 years to ancient Mesoamerica, present-day Mexico, to trace the roots of chocolate. The Olmec, one of the earliest civilizations in Latin America, were the first to cultivate the cacao plant and turn it into chocolate. Many years later, the Mayans turned chocolate into a brew made of roasted and ground cacao seeds mixed with chilies, water, and cornmeal. They created a thick foamy beverage called ‘xocolatl,’ meaning bitter water. This drink was so heavenly that the Mayans considered chocolate to be the drink of the gods. Legend even states that Aztec God Quetzalcoatl brought cocoa to earth and was banished from paradise for giving it to man.
Chocolate arrived in Europe in the 1500s and has grown in popularity ever since. It was considered an aristocratic indulgence as its high price point meant that only the wealthy could afford it back then. In the UK, it wasn’t until the 19th century that lower import duties meant chocolate could finally become more affordable.
Today, chocolate can be found in every part of the world with each culture having its own twist on the confection. But that’s not all, around 40 to 50 million people depend on cocoa for their livelihoods, with chocolate farmers producing 3.8 million tons of cocoa beans per year.
American Chocolate Week timeline
The Aztecs use cocoa beans, which are seen as a luxury, as currency.
Explorer Hernán Cortés discovers chocolate during an expedition to the Americas — presents the Spanish King Charles V with cocoa beans and the tools needed to prepare it.
The world’s first solid chocolate is created in the U.K. by adding more cocoa butter, rather than hot water, to cocoa powder and sugar.
Milton Hershey establishes the Hershey Chocolate Company.
American Chocolate Week FAQs
Why do people love chocolate so much?
Not only does chocolate smell, taste, and feel good in our mouths, but it also releases dopamine — a feel-good neurotransmitter. This can even decrease your stress levels.
What are the different types of chocolate?
There are mainly three types of chocolates — white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. While white chocolate doesn’t contain any cacao beans, the other two combine ingredients in different ratios.
Does chocolate have a lot of caffeine?
The amount of caffeine in chocolate products varies, but the more cocoa solids it has, the higher the caffeine content.
American Chocolate Week Activities
Make something chocolatey. Cake, ice cream, mousse, pudding, and so on. Go the extra mile and make different desserts for each day of the week.
Gift goodies to your friends
Surprise your friends by giving them little hampers full of chocolatey goodness. It could contain anything from cookies to candy bars.
Watch “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
Grab a tub of chocolate popcorn and rewatch this classic with your friends and family. You’re never too old to fantasize about a chocolate river, we know we never stopped dreaming about it.
5 Facts About Chocolate That Will Blow Your Mind
It was used as medicine
The Olmecs of Mesoamerica drank their chocolate during rituals and used it as medicine.
It’s great for a quick energy boost
Chocolate is rich in carbohydrates and is an excellent source of quick energy as it contains traces of stimulating alkaloids, theobromine, and caffeine.
It’s a movie star
Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1960 film “Psycho” used watered-down Hershey’s chocolate syrup to represent blood in the iconic shower scene.
The U.S. loves chocolate
Americans consume around half of all the world’s chocolate — that’s more than three billion pounds.
Chocolate helped invent microwaves
In 1945, the heating effect of a high-power microwave beam was accidentally discovered by American engineer Percy Spencer, who noticed that microwaves from an active radar set he was working on started to melt a chocolate bar he had in his pocket.
Why We Love American Chocolate Week
It’s made for every occasion
Made your girlfriend mad? Give her some chocolate. It’s your friend’s birthday? Get them some chocolate. Upset child? Chocolate. Are dementors getting you down? You guessed it, chocolate!
Everyone loves chocolate
Simply put, chocolate is great. There’s nothing else quite like it. It can be used to make a host of other delectable desserts like cakes, ice cream, trifles, sandwiches, cookies, soufflés, and pies. The list goes on.
It makes us happy
Chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine, which releases certain endorphins in the brain. These make people feel good all over — similar to how we feel when we’re in love.
American Chocolate Week dates