Chocolate is made from cocoa beans; the dried and fermented seeds of the cacao tree a small evergreen tree native to the tropical region of the Americas.
It’s believed that the word cocoa, rather than cacao, was a misspelling made by European traders who brought it back from overseas.
The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom.
They would grind the seeds and serve as a bitter liquid, mixed with spices or corn puree. It was believed to be an aphrodisiac and to give the drinker strength. They would give the drink to victorious warriors after battle, use it during religious rituals, and even used cacao beans as currency. Cacao beans were considered more valuable than gold.
During the 16th century, a Spanish explorer, Hernán Cortés travelled to South America to establish Spanish colonies. He brought the cacao drink, known as xocolatl, back to Spain, where people began to sweeten it with sugar or honey, and it became a big hit.
Then in 1828 Coenraad van Houten from Amsterdam invented the cocoa press, which could separate the fat from a cacao bean, leaving behind a fine powder. This was tastier to enjoy as a drink, and people started adding milk to it instead of water, making it more like the hot chocolate we’d drink today.
In 1847 British chocolatier JS Fry had the idea of recombining the fat and liquor and adding sugar. He set this mixture in moulds and the chocolate bar was born.
Swiss chocolatiers were the first to add milk to the concoction; producing milk chocolate.
Then in 1904, George Cadbury Junior developed a chocolate with more milk than anything else on the market.
After various suggestions, they settled on the name Dairy Milk. It was initially sold in large blocks, which could be cut down and sold as penny bars, then later it was wrapped and became that Dairy Milk that we know (and love!) today.