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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The "The Dryer Sheet To My Heart" Story

It was an ordinary day. Being that Valentine's Day is upon us, I thought it might be neat to feature a story about something very romantic … like chocolate!  Isn't chocolate the most romantic item you can think of today?  Be it dark, light, white, filled with almonds or peanuts, or dripped over strawberries, it is fantastic!  I assume you know that milk and dark chocolate come from the cacao bean which grows on the cacao tree, an evergreen from the family Malvaceae.  Therefore it makes the most important part of the sweet treat a vegetable.  And, therefore one of the main food groups!  And, you need this food group daily!  White chocolate really isn't a chocolate since it doesn't contain cacoa solids or chocolate liquor, but does contain parts of the cacao bean; mainly cocoa butter.  Hey, that's find with me!  In both the early Mexican and Aztec cultures, cacao was brewed which yielded a bitter concoction that was often used for ceremonial occasions like weddings.  It is supposed to be the origin of our hot chocolate, only more refined and sweeter.  Love a cup of Quik for breakfast in the morning.  Gives me something to dunk my toast, cookies, cake or muffin into.  
And while I'm on the topic of hot chocolate, did you know that Marie Antoinette dipped her cake in hot chocolate.  Seems they served hot chocolate frequently at the Palace of Versailles and it went perfect with the cake she often had.  It also was believed to be an aphrodisiac; the hot chocolate that is - not the cake.  It wasn't until 1847 when a pair of British confectioners invented solid chocolate. The Fry and Sons confectionary concocted what they called "eating chocolate" by combining cocoa butter, sugar and chocolate liquor which made a grainy, solid form of treat very similar to our chocolate candy.  Actually cocao and cocoa are both the same thing.  Over time, people just switched the same letters around, but came up with the same item. Made for something like fake news, I guess.  I do that rather often you probably realize by now.  Getting back to French culture, did you know that Napoleon loved chocolate?  The French leader demanded that wine and chocolate be made available to him and his senior advisers even during intense military campaigns.  
Now, if you look in my wife's pantry, you will probably find something which is known as Baker's Chocolate which isn't just for baking.  She tells me that, but perhaps to keep me from eating it.  Doesn't work though!  Baker's Chocolate was actually developed by Dr. James Baler and John Hannon who founded a chocolate company which later became known as Walter Baker Chocolate in 1765.  It wasn't just meant to be for baking, but it sort of revolved into that since it carried the name baker on it.   Then along came Lancastrian Milton Hershey who was the real candy KING.  Built a caramel factory in downtown Lancaster on Church Street at the age of 30.  He later found that adding chocolate to his caramels made them sell faster.  He sold his caramel factory in Lancaster and built a plant in Hershey, Pennsylvania and the rest is history, as they say. Milk chocolate was actually invented in Switzerland in 1875 when Daniel Peter created a tasty treat after eight years of experimenting.  Would have loved to have worked for him in quality control.  
LDub has turned into chocolate while typiing this story!!
He finally found that condensed milk was the key ingredient in milk chocolate.  Also interesting to know that it takes 400 cacao beans to make a single pound of milk chocolate.  It was in 1842 that the Cadbury Company made the very first chocolate bar.  They still are one of my youngest sons favorites and we make sure he gets his Cadbury chocolate eggs every Easter on his dinner plate.  And finally, if you have ever put a candy bar in your pocket or under your baseball cap to keep someone from finding and eating it, you probably realized that it melts if it get too hot; 93 degrees to be exact.  That's just below the human body temperature.  And the reason for that is … so it can melt on your tongue!  Well, hope you bought some chocolate for your favorite sweetheart today, but if not, don't worry for I will be eating a few extra pieces just for you, since you realize that chocolate is the dryer sheet to my heart.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

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