So what happened in 1847 that was so important to chocolate's history?
The brothers behind J.S. Fry & Sons produced the first modern chocolate bar, changing our consumption of chocolate from a beverage to the portable snack we consume today. Joseph and Francis Fry discovered that by mixing some of the cocoa butter back into the cocoa powder, a paste was created which could be sweetened with sugar and then poured into a mold. These bars may have paved the way for the ones that we eat today, but they would probably be too rough and grainy for our tastes. This is because another necessary step hadn't been invented: conching.
In 1879, Rodolphe Lindt was looking for a solution to the grainy dried cocoa cakes his factory was producing. With help from his brother August, they created a machine that used hot rollers to mix the cocoa with cocoa butter to create a smoother texture. Seeing as it resembled a half shell, they referred to their new machine as the conche. Rodolphe began using this new machine in his quest to develop the perfect chocolate recipe. During one of his tests, Lindt forgot to turn off the conche when he left the factory, and only realized his mistake when he returned three days later. Lindt expected the chocolate inside to be burnt and unusable, but was surprised to find the mixture incredibly smooth and shiny. The mixture was easier to mold and melted on the tongue, and the taste was far superior to any chocolate that had been made before. Lindt began to market this new product as chocolate fondant, and before long his chocolate was in high demand across Europe.
Over in the United States, chocolate production was growing at a faster pace than anywhere else in the world. In 1893, Milton Hershey became fascinated with chocolate while attending the Chicago World's Fair. He purchased the necessary chocolate making equipment there to take back to the caramel factory he owned in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. By 1900, Hershey had sold his caramel company for $1 million to focus completely on manufacturing chocolate. The first Hershey bar was produced later that year, and within five years the company had moved to a larger production plant to keep up with American demand. The close proximity of the factory to the dairy farms allowed Hershey to use fresh milk to mass-produce his bars. This advantage, coupled with the latest production techniques, made Hershey's milk chocolate the first nationally marketed product of its kind.
Today, Hershey’s is the largest manufacturer of chocolate in North America, and one of the biggest in the world. You see their chocolate almost everywhere you go—the grocery store, gas station, and movie theater—but one place you won’t find it is in our box.
Wonder why? We'll tell you the answer…in a upcoming post!