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Wednesday, February 5, 2020



Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by giving a loved one a heart shaped box of chocolates. Even as children, my sister and I received a little heart shaped box with chocolates inside from our parents every Valentine’s Day. Chocolate is one of the most popular and beloved treats in the world. It shows up for every special occasion and event. There are festivals in which every dish has chocolate in it.  Good grief, human beings without their chocolate might parish from the Earth. How did chocolate come into be such a widely consumed food in the first place?

Mayan and the Cocao Bean

It turns out chocolate was here before the birth of Jesus. Chocolate has been around for 4000 years. We owe it all to the ancient Mayans. It all began in southern Mexico. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to 450 BC. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoati, the god of wisdom. The seeds held so much value that they were actually used as currency. Chocolate was used for everything from medicine to an aphrodisiac. The Aztec ruler, Montezuma called it the “divine drink”, so, of course only the important people could drink it. So, how did chocolate end up all around the 

The Santa Maria

Columbus took cacao beans back to Spain after he began his explorations of the “New World.” He made more than one trip although we mostly give him credit for that first one. Anyway, no one cared about chocolate until the Spanish friars introduced chocolate to the Spanish court. At first, it was only served as a bitter drink used for medicine, but soon it was discovered that adding sugar or honey to it made it more palatable and then it was game on. By the 18th century chocolate spread across Europe and then to the American Colonies. 

In 1760 the Chocolaterie Lombart chocolate company was formed. The Industrial Revolution in 1815  prompted Dutch chemist, Coenraad van Houten to introduce alkaline salts to chocolate which reduced the bitterness and in 1828 he created a press to remove half the fat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor which made chocolate both cheaper to produce and more consistent in quality. This Dutch Chocolate brought to the world the first solid chocolate.

Over the years improvements were made by adding back some of the cacao butter which gave it the ability to be molded into shapes. Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate by adding powdered milk developed by Henri Nestle. Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching machine. A conching machine is a surface scraping mixer that evenly distributes cocoa butter within chocolate and might act as a sort of “polisher” of the particles. It promotes flavor through frictional heat, release of volatiles, acids, and oxidation. Lower quality chocolate is conched for as little as six hours. 

Lindt and Sprungli started a Swiss based company with global reach to manufacture solid chocolate. Cadbury began manufacturing boxed chocolates in England by 1868. In 1893 Milton S. Hershey purchased chocolate processing equipment at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and began to manufacture Hershey’s chocolates and chocolate covered caramels. Hello to Hershey Kisses and Snickers!

While men led the movement to mass produce chocolate for everyday people, women were targeted by ads and “were charged with providing wholesome cocoa for respectable consumption within the family”…sorta like providing our families with vitamins. Women were also targeted when chocolate became a courting ritual—like finally, men got something right. Over the years it has become a Valentine ritual for people to give their beloveds a box of chocolates to show their devotion and love. THANK YOU chocolate people!

My Upcoming release For February 12 Available On Preorder


Legends of Winatuke, Book 3

By Sarah J. McNeal

Fire Star Press

Buy Link:


A quest for a magical light...A Gypsy’s love…And a warrior’s sacrifice


Without further comment, he scooped her up in his arms and waltzed with her to the place directly in front of the musicians. Falcon caught Peregrine's eyes and saw in them indifference. Anger swelled inside him. Peregrine could be such an ass. Didn't he care that Falcon danced with Izabelle much too close? What did Izabelle see in his apathetic brother who displayed nothing of the concern or interest he should in this astonishing woman?

Well, things are about to change.

Falcon dipped Izabelle low with only his arm to keep her from falling. He leaned over her body draped across his arm and inhaled her sweet essence floating on the night air. Her breath hitched and her eyes glittered in the dim light as she peered at him, those eyes wide and bright with surprise.

He lowered his mouth and touched his lips to hers.

Diverse stories filled with heart




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  1. Beautiful cover and excerpt, Sarah! Both so romantic, perfect for Valentine's.
    The article on choc made me want to go grab some - straight away!

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, Lindsay. Livia designed the cover.
      Writing this article made ME want to run out and buy some chocolate and I'm not even a chocolate lover. Ha ha! There's something about a box of Whitman's Samplers that is calling to me even over gum drops and marshmallow peeps.
      Thank you for your comments, Lindsay.

  2. I so enjoyed your history of chocolate, Sarah. Your article would be the first one I'd have to read today and instantly crave chocolate--and I don't have any in the house! I started a very strict diet on February 1st, so hubby and I finished off the box of Ferrero Rocher last week. So funny, because when I was tidying up the living room, I came across the box from Christmas and I confess I ripped off that cellophane faster than a fox in a hen house lol. Congratulations on your new release next week. Livia made you a beautiful cover.

    1. You mean you actually had some chocolate left from Christmas? I'm impressed, Elizabeth.
      Thank you for your comments and thank you for all your support.

  3. Love it! My husband and I received a box of See's Nuts & Chews for Christmas. I've been saving it for Valentine's Day. To celebrate Valentine's Day, we have scheduled a sight-seeing drive into the foothills east of us, and I'm taking the box of chocolates with us.

    1. Zina, I never heard of nuts and chews, but they sound good if they're covered with chocolate. Why not buy 2 boxes; one for Christmas and one for Valentine's? I hope the two of you have a wonderful and fun Valentine road trip.
      Thank you so much for coming by and commenting. I appreciate it.

  4. I'm the odd one out. I don't like chocolate. I do eat dark once in a while but more out of courtesy to the giver. Otherwise, it's yucky. Still, for those who love it, I can see how it would be something special and this was a great overview.

    Loved the excerpt also. Thanks. Doris

    1. I'm not a big chocolate fan either, Doris. I like it, but it's not my favorite. I like gum drops and marshmallow peeps.
      Thank you for your kind words and for dropping by, Doris.

  5. Love the cover and great excerpt. Good luck with your new release. What's not to love about chocolate? So this post is a winner with me. I might have to go and get some chocolate now.

    1. Christine, I feel like I'm I running everybody to the candy store. LOL I am so happy to learn you liked the excerpt and the cover by Livia for my new release. It's due to be released February 12.
      Thank you for coming by.

  6. Sarah I enjoyed reading your history on chocolate. I just wish I could eat all I wanted and not pouf out. Lol. And your new book sounds like a great love story. The cover is beautiful and eye-catching. May God continue to bless others through your writing, Sarah

    1. Thank you for your very kind remarks, Laurean. I certainly appreciate you visiting my blog.

  7. This was a 'delicious' post, with so much good information. We visited a chocolate company in Costa Rica and enjoyed a 'chocolate tasting,' during which they told use some of this recent history of chocolate. I'm thankful for everyone through the centuries who are responsible for bringing us this sweet treat.

    1. Ann, I did visit the chocolate factory and store in Hersey, PA coming back from a trip to Nova Scotia. Costa Rica would be close to where chocolate originated though.
      Thank you for coming by and your comment--especially the "delicious" part.

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