African-American slavery and chocolate
As more and more people wanted chocolate, farmers had to grow more and more cocoa beans. By 1677, Spanish land-owners were buying West African people to farm cocoa beans as slaves, first in Brazil, and then in Venezuela.
More Europeans drink chocolate
Gradually during the 1600s Europeans began to let kids drink chocolate too. Traders slowly convinced people further and further east to try chocolate: in 1643, people drank chocolate in France; by 1704 in Germany, by 1711 in Vienna, and before 1750 people in Russia were trying chocolate too.
Chocolate reaches India and China
European traders brought chocolate-drinking back west to North America in 1755. By 1834 British traders were trying to get people to drink chocolate in India, and soon after that in China, but chocolate didn’t really become popular in India or China – most people drank tea instead.
Growing cacao beans in Africa
More and more people wanted chocolate, but the American Revolutionary War in 1776, and the War of 1812 after that, made it hard to ship cocoa beans from South America to Europe – there was too much fighting going on among ships in the Atlantic Ocean.
Who was Tetteh Quarshie?
But cocoa trees did not really grow very well in Africa until a 28 year old Ghanaian man, Tetteh Quarshie, went to South America himself and learned how to grow cocoa trees in 1870. After that a lot of chocolate came from Africa.
Who invented chocolate bars?
In 1830, British chocolate makers invented a way to make solid pieces of chocolate, instead of just hot chocolate drinks. (The secret is adding extra cocoa butter.) People began to give chocolate candy in heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day.
Milk chocolate and machinery
By 1875, Swiss chocolate makers invented milk chocolate bars. With the invention of cheap steel and the use of rubber, Europeans began to use machines to make things instead of making everything by hand. So they also began to use machines to make chocolate candies.
Chocolate gets much cheaper
Because enslaved people worked without pay in West Africa to grow cocoa beans, and workers in factories in Europe and the United States used machines to make the beans into chocolate, chocolate became much cheaper than before.
By 1900, chocolate bars were an ordinary treat for most people in Europe and North America. In Central America, people began to eat chocolate bars, but they continued to make their traditional bitter chocolate drinks as well.
Fair Trade chocolate today
By 1910, progressives in the United States convinced Congress to pass a law that no chocolate grown by slaves could be sold in the United States. But most people who picked cocoa beans were still very poor and overworked, and many of these people were children.
By 2000, a few small chocolate producers in the United States began to produce chocolate from Fair Trade farms, but 99% of the chocolate sold in the world today is still picked and processed by very poor people, and hundreds of thousands of those people are enslaved children.