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The feel-good feeling of chocolate

The feel-good feeling of chocolate

The feel-good feeling of chocolate

With Easter almost upon us, it’s time to get excited about all those chocolate eggs coming our way.

Nobody loves the sweet stuff more than MiNDFOOD but we pale in comparison to the good folk of Switzerland where they put away an impressive 12kgs of chocolate per person every year. That is a massive 240 regular-sized bars of chocolate for every man, woman and Swiss child. By comparison, in Australia and New Zealand, we eat just 4.5kg each per year, putting us at about 14th in the world for choccie munchers.

If you’re like us, you may horde your chocolate stash away at home like gold so the rest of the family don’t get to it, but back in the day, chocolate was literally used as cash. The ancient Mayans and Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency, with one cocoa bean worth one tomato or one avocado. You could trade three cocoa beans for a turkey egg, while 100 beans could buy you an egg-laying turkey hen. In the 1500s, Mayan kings also figured out how to make a kind of bitter chocolate drink, which they drank lots of.

But it was the Spanish who brought the cocoa bean from South America to Europe, where chocolatiers figured out how to combine sugar and cocoa butter to create something sweeter.

Nowadays, we may sometimes tuck into chocolate when we feel a bit blue but did you know that it has been used as a pick-me-up for centuries? Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical properties and according to some reports, Aztec sacrifice victims who were not in the mood to join in the required ritual dancing before their death were often given a bowl of chocolate (tinged with the blood of previous victims) to cheer them up and get them on their feet.

The first ‘modern’ chocolate bar was made by Joseph Fry in England who in 1847, experimented by mixing melted cacao butter and Dutch cocoa together. Twenty or so years later, Cadbury and Nestle were both producing early versions of the choccies we love today.

So enjoy your share of eggs this Easter and don’t forget – if you are vegan and don’t want the Easter Bunny to hop on past your house, there are a number of brands making vegan-friendly Easter treats. Try the Aldi home-brand eggs, the Lindt dark chocolate bunnies, Moo Free eggs and Sweet William eggs, to name a few.

Happy eating!

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