What are 10 Fun Facts About Chocolate? – Interesting and Astonishing

Chocolate is one of the most popular treats in the world. I worked in a chocolate factory for years, and during this time I had the opportunity to get to know its production process and its properties. But exactly how much do consumers know about their favorite treat?

My goal is to educate and entertain my chocolate-loving readers with some interesting and astonishing chocolate-related information.

  1. The word chocolate is of Aztec origin
  2. Columbus was the first to bring cocoa beans to Europe
  3. The chocolate we know today was made possible by a Dutch invention
  4. Cacao is not actually a bean
  5. Most cocoa in the world is grown in Africa
  6. Chocolate has a crystalline structure
  7. Switzerland has the highest chocolate consumption per capita
  8. The largest amount of chocolate in the world is sold at the Brussels airport
  9. Chocolate has a positive effect on our mood
  10. Chocolate enhances cognitive abilities

The name chocolate comes from the Aztec word xocolatl, which was the name of the drink they consumed, made from dried, roasted, and crushed cocoa beans. The cocoa drink of the Aztecs was very different from the sweet cocoa beverages and hot chocolates we know today. It was consumed with cold water and various spices, including chili and vanilla.

In the Mayan and Aztec cultures, cacao beans were not only used in ceremonial drinks, but also as currency.

The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is native to the Amazon rainforest. According to archaeological findings, it was consumed in Mesoamerica as early as 4,000 years ago, and the first known users were the Olmecs.

The 36 cm/14-inch tall statue in the photo below is on display in the Brooklyn Museum. Made of volcanic stone between 1440 and 1521, it depicts an Aztec man carrying a cacao pod.

Statue of an Aztec Man Carrying a Cacao Pod
Aztec. Man Carrying a Cacao Pod, Brooklyn Museum. Source: Wikimedia Commons

2. Christopher Columbus was the first to bring cocoa beans to Europe

The cocoa bean, which is the basic ingredient of chocolate, was first brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus in 1502, so the Spaniards were the first to get to know it.

According to Britannica, the first major shipment of cocoa arrived in Spain from Mexico in 1585. The warm, sweet beverage made from cocoa, spiced with cinnamon and vanilla, was very popular in the Spanish court.

Cacao later reached France and then England in 1650. At that time, cocoa was only consumed as a drink that included milk, sugar, and vanilla.

You may also wish to read whether coffee beans and cocoa beans are related.

3. The history of chocolate as we know it today began in the Netherlands, then continued in England and Switzerland

Chocolate in its solid form as we know it today was made possible by the invention of Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten. He patented the process by which cocoa butter was squeezed out of roasted and ground cocoa beans.

This process enabled the production of chocolates with a creamy texture. Dark chocolate bars were first made in England, and milk chocolate was developed in Switzerland in the 1800s.


After removing the cocoa butter, Van Houten treated the remaining cocoa powder with alkaline salts, which made it easily soluble in liquids. This process is now known as ‘Dutching’. The Van Houten factory began producing cocoa powder in 1828 and operated until 1971.

4. Cocoa beans are not actually beans

Chocolate is made from the fruit of the theobroma cacao plant and is called a bean only because of its shape. Cacao beans are the seeds inside the cacao pod.

An average cacao pod contains 30-50 seeds, which is enough to produce about 100g of chocolate. In addition to the seeds, the cacao pod also contains pulp, from which cacao pod juice is made.

Dried cocoa beans
Dried cocoa beans

5. African countries produce most of the cocoa used throughout the world

From a geographical point of view, cacao can only be grown in a very limited area, located within 20° latitude north and south of the equator. This is called the cacao belt.

Originally native to the tropical parts of America, the plant has also been introduced to Africa. Today, Ivory Coast and Ghana provide 60% of the world’s cocoa crop.

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) has been working since 2000 to promote the prosperity of cocoa farmers, the rights of cocoa workers, and the protection of the environment.


The International Cocoa Initiative (ICI), founded in Switzerland in 2002, is working to eliminate forced labor and child labor, which are still present on cocoa plantations in West Africa.

6. Chocolate has a crystalline structure

An important ingredient of good quality chocolate is cocoa butter, which has a crystalline structure. This means it has a melting point and a solidification point. Dark chocolate has a melting point of around 35°C/96°F and a solidification point of around 31°C/88°F.

Milk chocolate and white chocolate melt and solidify at slightly lower temperatures.

During melting, the cocoa butter crystals destabilize and break up. Tempering is essential for the formation of a stable crystal structure of chocolate.

Properly tempered chocolate is shiny, crunchy, and stable at room temperature. Improperly tempered chocolate is matte and melts easily.

7. Switzerland eats the most chocolate per capita

According to Worldpopulationreview.com, Switzerland has the highest chocolate consumption per capita. The Swiss consume an average of 8.8 kg of chocolate per person per year, followed by neighboring Austria.


Swiss chocolate production has a long tradition and is famous for its high quality. Lindt chocolates and Toblerone are among the finest commercially available chocolates in the world.

8. The largest amount of chocolate in the world is sold at Brussels airport

At Brussels airport, an average of 1.5 kg of chocolate is sold per minute, which amounts to 800 tons per year.

Belgian chocolate production began in the 19th century. In terms of its quality, it is at the forefront of the world. According to many, Belgian chocolate is the best quality.

Belgian chocolate shop
Belgian chocolate shop

9. Chocolate improves our mood

Cacao beans contain more than 300 chemicals, including theobromine and caffeine, which are known to have a stimulating effect.

Serotonin and endorphins present in cocoa and chocolate have an impact on several functions of the human brain, including behavior and mood.

Based on the results of some research, the compound called anandamide in chocolate also makes us feel good and may reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.


10. Chocolate stimulates brain function

Cocoa and dark chocolate contain high concentrations of flavonoids, which have an antioxidant effect. According to some research, the flavonoids in chocolate reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline in old age.

Cacao beans also contain theobromine and caffeine. These substances stimulate brain function and enhance our cognitive abilities. Caffeine is known to enhance memory.

While the theobromine in cocoa is beneficial to us, we must not forget that it is toxic to dogs.

Final thoughts

Chocolate is a favorite treat and comfort food for many of us. But what do we know about the history, production, and properties of chocolate?

In my article, I collected interesting facts related to chocolate. For example, which country grows the most cocoa in the world, who invented chocolate, and how its consumption affects our well-being?

What other interesting facts about chocolate do you know? You can share it with us in the comment section below.



My name is Debora, the founder of My Delicious Sweets, and a qualified confectioner with broad experience in the confectionery industry. On my blog, I will share important, interesting, and fun facts about food, along with some of my favorite recipes.

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