- Chocolate grows on the tropical tree called the Theobroma cacao, or simply, “cacao.” Theobroma is Greek for “food of the gods.”
- Cacao is native to Central and South America, but it is grown commercially throughout the tropics.
- About 70% of the world’s cacao is grown in Africa.
- A cacao tree can produce close to two thousand pods per year.
- The cacao pod is shaped like a football and grows straight out from the branches.
- The pods, which mature throughout the year, encase a sticky white pulp and about 30 or 40 seeds. These seeds are very bitter.
- After the beans are picked they are allowed to ferment and dry. These can take several weeks. After they are dried, they are sent to the factory where they are made into chocolate.
- Once the beans are at the factory they are cleaned, sorted and weighed. Every manufacturer knows exactly which beans make which kind of chocolate. Sometimes it takes 12 different kinds of beans to make a certain kind of chocolate.
- The process of making a chocolate bar can sometimes take a week once the cacao beans have reached the manufacturer because there are so many steps involved in the process.
- Cacao, the stuff that chocolate is made from, is quite good for you. It is a powerful antioxidant. However, chocolate also includes sugar which isn’t so good for you. It’s important to find chocolate that has a high cacao content.
Facts About Chocolate