December 12th is National Cocoa Day
Here are today’s five things to know about Cocoa:
Cocoa was first used to make “hot chocolate” by Aztecs. The drink was called “xocolatl”, which means bitter water.
The Swiss consume the most chocolate per capita, which is 22 pounds each compared to 11 pounds each in the United States.
Cocoa grows from cacao trees and the name cocoa bean was from a spelling mistake made by English importers in the 18th century.
Fine chocolate is pricy because every stage of cocoa production is down by hand: planting, irrigating, harvesting, fermenting and drying.
Amsterdam is the world’s most important cocoa port: 500k-600k tonnes of cocoa per day.
Today’s Food History
- 1779 The Smithfield Cattle and Sheep Society held the first Smithfield Show in London. It is now the leading agriculture show in the UK.
- 1827 John & Peter Delmonico opened their first restaurant in New York, Delmonico & Brother Cafe at 23 William Street.
- 1838 Pierre-Marie-Alexis Millardet was born. A French botanist, he saved the vineyards of France from total destruction by the grape phylloxera, a small greenish-yellow insect which sucks the fluid from grapevines. He did so by grafting the French vines on American rootstock, which was resistant to phylloxera. He also developed the first widely used plant fungicide.
- 1856 Charles Dickens wrote in ‘Household Words,’ “Aluminum may probably send tin to the right about face, drive copper saucepans into penal servitude, and blow up German-silver sky high into nothing.” He was pretty accurate in his prediction, even though aluminum had only been discovered in 1808, and had only been used commercially since 1854.
- 1884 Percy Everitt patented a coin operated scale.
- 1981 ‘Pigmeat’ Markham died. American actor, comedian. (“Here comes the Judge.”).