National Chocolates Day
annually on November 29th
Forrest Gump once declared, "My momma always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'" The same can be said about holidays, as each day seems to bring something new and unexpected. Today is National Chocolates Day, making it the perfect day for Forrest, or anyone who loves chocolate!
Chocolate comes from a bean called Theobroma cacao. The word "chocolate" itself comes from the Spanish, and it stems from the Aztec word xocolatl, which means "bitter water." The Aztecs pounded the cacao beans and drank them without adding any sugar, and they thought the beans came from the gods. Indeed, Theobroma means "food of the gods." Cocoa beans are about 50% "cocoa butter" and 50% "chocolate liquor." Hernando Cortés brought cocoa beans back to Spain, and a chocolate drink that included sugar became popular right away. This seems to contradict the accounts that say chocolate wasn't introduced in Europe until 1550. The word "chocolate" first appeared in print, in England, in 1604.
During the eighteenth century, a chocolate drink became fashionable throughout Europe, and it first became manufactured in what would become the United States in 1765. The first chocolate factory opened in the United States in 1780, but hard chocolate candy was not yet made until the dawn of the nineteenth century. Hardened chocolate candy bars first became being sold on a large scale by the Cadbury Company of England in 1842, and "chocolate creams"—candies with sugar-cream centers—were first eaten by Americans in the 1860s.
Milk chocolate was first made by the Swiss in 1875 when Daniel Peter added his chocolate to the newly-discovered sweetened condensed milk of Henry Nestlé, and it became popular in America and Europe. Milton S. Hershey, who had been in the candy business since the age of fourteen, and who had been quite successful with his Lancaster Caramel Company, was enamored by the chocolate making he saw at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago—especially the making of milk chocolate. The first milk chocolate Hershey bar was produced in 1900, and by 1905 Hershey's enormous factory in Derry Township, Pennsylvania, was in operation. With Hershey's support, a company town sprang up around the factory, and milk from nearby farms was used in making the milk chocolate.
Milton Hershey invented the Hershey's kiss in 1907, and its trademark foil wrapper was added in 1924. Hershey provided troops in World War II with a Ration D bar, and later the better-tasting Tropical Chocolate Bar. These chocolate bars were resistant to temperatures higher than ninety degrees Fahrenheit. Besides Hershey bars and kisses, many other popular types of chocolate candies are under the Hershey's umbrella, including Almond Joy, Mounds, and Reese's. Another popular candy manufacturer in the United States is Mars, which produces chocolate candy bars such as Snickers and Twix. In addition to being used in candy bars, chocolate is used in cakes, cookies, syrups, fudge, shakes, and many other desserts. Of course, chocolate also can be made into small "chocolates." These often come in boxes in assorted flavors or are individually wrapped. We celebrate them today!
How to Observe
The day should be celebrated by eating chocolates! You shouldn't just have one piece of chocolate, but multiple kinds! It's probably best to get a box of them. You could get any box at a nearby grocery store, or a higher quality box recommended by chocolate experts. Perhaps you could offer some chocolates to others, just like Forrest Gump did. You could also pick up some chocolates at one of the best shops in the United States.