Chocolate: Did You Know?

Equal Exchange
February 6, 2008
  • "Cacao" is the bean that comes from the cacao tree, which is known by the scientific name of Theobroma cacao. Cacao pods - large football-shaped fruits - grow off the trunk and limbs of the cacao tree, and cacao beans are found inside the pods. The beans are harvested, fermented and dried. They are then cleaned and roasted, after which point the products are often referred to as "cocoa." In other words, "cocoa" is what the bean is called after it has been processed.
  • The scientific name Theobroma means "food of the gods."
  • The average cacao tree produces enough cacao to make one kilogram of chocolate.
  • Cacao trees originally only grew in Mexico, Central America and South America, but now over 70% of the world's cacao is grown in Africa.
  • Chocolate is a $13 billion a year business in the United States. Valentine's Day accounts for about 12% of chocolate sales.
  • Americans' average annual consumption of chocolate candy is nearly 12 pounds per person, putting us in 11th place worldwide. Switzerland consumes more chocolate per capita than any other nation.
  • During the 18th century, chocolate houses acted as political and cultural meeting places for nobility and gentry.