Take a delicious walk down memory lane with us as we review the history of milk chocolate! From thousands of years ago to now, people’s love of this decadent treat hasn’t diminished.
1900 BC: Chocolate is Consumed by Humans for Pleasure
Cacao trees have been around since the dawn of time—with signs of cultivation as early as 3,000 years ago. However, the history of chocolate consumption for pleasure began with the Aztecs in 1900 BC. This group of Mesoamericans fermented cocoa beans to create their own kind of chocolate beer, something they believed was a present from their God of Wisdom. Cocoa was so revered by the Aztecs that it was used as a form of currency too. Too bad we don’t still do business with chocolate!
1502 AD: Cocoa Comes to Europe
Christopher Columbus may or may not have been the real founder of America, but he is credited for introducing cocoa beans to England. After a trip to the Americas, he brought back these beans to eager taste buds and changed the course of history.
1672: Milk is Added to Sipping Chocolate
Sir Hans Sloane is touted for being the first person to add milk to liquid drinking chocolate. What’s so cool about that? This genius inventor was only 12-years old at the time!
1847: The First Modern Chocolate Bar is Discovered
Joseph Fry made the amazing discovery that adding melted cocoa butter to Dutch cocoa created a moldable bar—the chocolate bar! This isn’t the date that milk chocolate was discovered, but it was a step in the right direction.
1868: Cadbury Catches On
Cadbury is now a chocolate giant—selling about 350 million chocolate bars each year. They’re credited for creating the first commercial milk chocolate drinking chocolate.
1887: The Milk Chocolate Bar is Born
Daniel Peter of the Nestlé factory in Switzerland is the hero of all milk chocolate lovers. That’s because he is the man who discovered how you could combine milk and chocolate to create this smooth and delicate treat. He loved chocolate so much that he continued to work for Nestlé until he was in his 90s.
2008: Hershey Rocks the Chocolate World
Outrage and upheaval rang out in the candy world when Hershey changed its chocolate recipe in Whatchamacallit, Milk Duds, Mr. Goodbar, and Krackel—something that caused the candies to lose their status as actual chocolate. The substitution of cocoa butter for vegetable oil was a bold move, but something the company did due to the outrageous price of cocoa. To determine if chocolate is indeed cocoa-based or “mocklate” check the label; if it says chocolate candy instead of milk chocolate you know it’s not real milk chocolate.
2015: Chocolate-lovers Win
Faced with customer disdain, Hershey announced its plan to remove all artificial flavorings from its famous milk chocolate bars, followed by Reese’s and Hershey’s Kisses. Now, you can enjoy milk chocolate with real vanilla!
2017: Chocolate Consumption is at an All-time High
Today, people consume over $101 billion worth of chocolate each year (from retail sales alone). There’s no surprise the Swiss are at the top of the consumption chart—since Lindt, a chocolate mogul, is rooted there. The U.S. still comes in ninth in the world, eating nearly 10 pounds of chocolate per person annually.
If you love milk chocolate, treat yourself this National Milk Chocolate Day! And don’t forget to share some of this history you’ve read here with your fellow chocolate fans. Happy eating, friends!