CHOCOLATE. From the fact that the pre paration called chocolate, a product of the nut of the chocolate tree (Theobroma cacao), is now extensively used, makes it deserving of more than a passing notice. Its name, Theobroma (food of the Gods), was given by Linnmus, who was excessively fond of it. Its common name is from the Aztec (Ancient Mexican), name Chocolatl. This people it is said, were so expert that they raised the liquid preparation into a froth that was so firm, on cooling, that it could be eaten. There are several species indigenous to the inter-tropical regions of America, the oily nuts of which ace used for food. The trade in the nuts, for manufacturing into the chocolate cakes of commerce, is now very extensive. The West Indies, Mexico, Central. America, and Brazil are the chief places of production. The cut shows a branch of the Cacao, with its leaves and nuts, and also section of nut sliced lengthwise. The fruit when ripening changes from a green to a deep yellow color; when ripe, it is gathered by hand, split open, and the seeds removed. The latter are then cleaned of the pulpy matter sur rounding them, and subjected to a process of fermentation, for the purpose of developing their color, and when this process is completed they are dried in the sun and packed for transporta tion. The seeds are prepared for use by roast
ing in revolving metal cylinders and then bruis ing them to loosen their skins, which are removed by fanning. The cotyledons, com monly called cacao-nibs, are separated in the same manner. The cleaned seeds are then crushed and ground between heated rollers, which softens the oily matter and reduces them to a uniform, pasty mass; this is then mixed with variable quantities of sugar and starch, to form the different kinds of cacao, or sweetened and flavored with vanilla or other substances for the formation of chocolate. The value of cacao as an article of food is very considerable, from the large quantity of nutritive matter it contains. In one hundred parts of cacao there are fifty-one of fat or butter, twenty-two of starch and gum, twenty of gluten, and two of the peculiar prin ciple theobromine, which contains more nitrogen than the active principle of either tea or coffee.
As a refreshing beverage, it is much inferior to either of these well-known articles, which are used as an infusion only; but as cacao is taken into the stomach as a substance, it is an impor tant article of nutrition, as it is of commerce.