No single person can be credited with having invented chocolates. Native Americans, Aztecs, Mayans, Olmec etc were growing cacao beans when Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas. The word ‘chocolate’ comes from the Spanish language which is itself borrowed from the local Indian languages. Columbus introduced cacao beans to Spain and from there they spread to the whole of Europe and then to the world.
The early chocolates were drunk as beverages and initially only the nobility could afford them. Soon cacao beans were being grown in Spain. The first chocolate house was opened by a Frenchman in London. By the year 1674 chocolate was being used in cakes. Monsieur Dubuisson invented a machine, a table mill, to grind cacao beans. Then the steam engines were invented. Joseph Storrs Fry attached a steam engine to a table mill. This resulted in production on an unparalleled level. With the steam engine in place to power the table mill, Joseph Fry was able to produce chocolates on a grand scale. Joseph Fry’s next big invention was ‘chocolate bars.’ His chocolates may not have been very acceptable compared to today’s standards but they proved to be very popular.
The next major step towards modern chocolate was of Conrad van Houten. He invented a machine in 1829 which could extract fat from the cacao beans. The process is still in use today and it’s known as ‘dutching’. The chocolate is now is divided into eleven basic categories (milk chocolate, dark chocolate etc.) which again have numerous subcategories. The revenue of the chocolate industry, when combined from around the world, is more than $50 billion a year.