When you read the word “chocolate”, you most likely think, before anything else, of chocolate bars and candies. While the history of chocolate consumption is long, the existence of chocolate bars is a relatively recent introduction.
Although chocolate has been consumed for thousands of years (one of the earliest known uses of it as food is from around 1400 BC where it was fermented into an alcoholic chocolate drink), it wasn’t until the 1840s that people were able to eat it in a solid form.
Historically, it had been stepped, fermented, blended, and otherwise mixed into liquids. In the early 19th century, Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten experimented with chocolate and came up with ways to reduce the bitterness (by adding alkaline salts) and to extract around 50 percent of the fatty cocoa butter (by using a press). Building on this research in 1847, Joseph Fry found a way to make chocolate moldable by adding melted cacao butter back in and, in the process, creating the world’s first solid chocolate bar. The advertising seen here is for the original Fry’s Chocolate Cream, the first commercial solid chocolate bar on the market.
This discovery opened the flood gates of chocolate production and experimentation, and over the next few decades, rapid innovation in the field yielded chocolate bars much like the ones we eat today.