c. 600 BC The Maya drank a drink containing chocolate. Research (2002) discovered traces of theobromine (dust in chocolate) in three separate teapots from a Mayan burial site in Colha, Belize.
circa 500 BC Traces of cocoa found on a flat plate used to prepare food
1000-1125 CE Fragments of pottery with cocoa residue found in Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, dating to 1000-1125 CE.
1502 Christopher Columbus discovers cocoa beans in a Mayan canoe. It is clear to him that they are considered important and valuable because of the way they are treated by the traders. Among other things, he brought samples to King Ferdinand, but their use and value are not fully recognized.
1519 Cortés meets Motecuhzoma II the Aztec Emperor and witnesses his consumption of “chocolatl”, a cold, thick, bitter drink made from cocoa beans and a variety of herbs and spices.
1525-1600 Europeans develop a taste for hot chocolate and Spain builds a lucrative business growing cocoa beans in many of the overseas colonies. It has kept the art of the process secret from the rest of Europe for nearly 100 years.
1528 Cortés and his men return to Spain, bringing boxes of cocoa beans. It quickly becomes popular with the Spanish upper class who modernize the bitter drink by sweetening it with cane sugar and adding vanilla.
1600-1650 The use of hot chocolate spreads throughout Europe and becomes the drink of choice in many dishes.
1657 The first of many famous English chocolate houses opens the sale of hot chocolate.
1685 Treatise on coffee, tea and chocolate published by the French chemist Dufour, entitled “Traitez nouveaux & curieux du café du thé et du chocolate”.
c. 1700 The cocoa milling process is mechanized with a steam engine and manual methods of making chocolate give way to mass production. By 1730, the price of chocolate has dropped dramatically to the point that it is affordable for the average person.
1765 The first American chocolate factory was built in New England.
1826 Earliest known reference to chocolate candies in the UK in an advertisement for Fry’s Chocolate Lozenges.
1828 The cocoa press was invented, further reducing the prices of chocolate and improving the quality of hot chocolate by removing some of the cocoa butter naturally found in the beans.
1842 Solid “Eating Chocolate” is first introduced by John Cadbury. Its production was made possible by the development of dark chocolate, a smoother variety that almost completely replaced the old coarse-grained chocolate that used to dominate the world market.
1875 In Vevey, Switzerland, Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle revolutionize chocolate by adding milk and creating the first milk chocolate.
1894 Hershey Chocolate Company begins producing coatings for baking chocolate, cocoa and sweet chocolate for caramel.