Chocolate / Cocoa / Facts

25 Things You Might Not Know About Chocolate

It’s amazing melted and mixed with milk. It’s the perfect addition to cake and cookie batter. It’s divine sweetened with a little sugar. We know it’s delicious (in all its forms), but there’s more to chocolate than great taste. A few facts to nourish your mind…


  1. On Valentine’s Day, more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold in the United States.
  2. Chocolate (really, the cocoa beans it is made from) grows on theobroma cacao trees and — like coffee — can flourish under the shade of the forest canopy and support biodiversity.
  3. A cocoa pod contains an average of about 42 beans; it takes some 270 beans to make a pound of chocolate.
  4. Experts predict that there will be a “modest” cocoa shortage of about 100,000 tons over the coming year.
  5. According to the Greeks,  theobroma is literally the “food of the gods.”
  6. Côte d’Ivoire produces more cocoa than any other nation in the world; the industry supports an estimated 4.5 million people in the West African country.
  7. Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa farms conserve forests and wildlife while ensuring that workers are provided with decent wages and safe living and working conditions, and their families have access to health care and education.
  8. In South American civilizations, cocoa beans were once used as a form of currency and only eaten as their quality degraded. According to ancient records, a horse cost 10 beans and a rabbit could be purchased for four beans.
  9. Approximately 70 percent of the world’s cacao comes from West Africa (including Côte d’Ivoire). Cacao trees grow across the lowland tropical regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas.
  10. The Mayans were the first to grind up cacao seeds and use them to concoct a drink.
  11. Cocoa is farmed on more than 28,000 square miles (18 million acres or 7.5 million hectares) worldwide. That’s an area about the size of Ireland or the state of South Carolina.
  12. The word chocolate probably comes from the Aztec word “xocolatl” meaning “bitter water.”
  13. About 40 million people worldwide, including five million farmers, rely on cocoa for their livelihoods. Most cocoa is grown by “smallholder” farmers who own one- or two-acre plots of land.
  14. Cocoa was introduced in Spain as early as the 1600’s, but it wasn’t until 1765 that the first chocolate factory was established in the United States.
  15. Like turkey, chocolate contains tryptophan — a chemical that the brain uses to produce serotonin, which can generate feelings of ecstasy or love.
  16. There are Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa farms in 14 countries: Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Tanzania and Togo.
  17. Chocolate (especially the dark variety) is rich in antioxidants.
  18. The average American eats about 12 pounds of chocolate per year.
  19. In the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” chocolate syrup is used as fake blood.
  20. This year, 47 percent of US consumers will exchange Valentine’s Day candy – and 75 percent of that candy will be chocolate.
  21. The Rainforest Alliance is working with farmers in Ghana to produce “climate-friendly” cocoa that benefits workers and communities financially while helping them to adopt practices that curb climate change and mitigate its impacts.
  22. Two out of three women say choosing their own chocolate is just as personal a decision as selecting their own lipstick.
  23. A cacao tree takes five years to produce its first beans.
  24. A COSA study on cocoa farms in Côte d’Ivoire found that (compared to their uncertified neighbors) Rainforest Alliance Certified cocoa farmers produced more cocoa per hectare; earned a higher net income; implemented more soil and water conservation measures; and were more committed to community engagement.
  25. Emperor Montezuma is said to have sipped 50 golden goblets of hot chocolate – dyed red and spiced with chili peppers – daily.

Is your mouth watering yet? Visit Shop the Frog to find brands and stores offering Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate goodies; enter to win a basket full of Rainforest Alliance Certified chocolate; and watch our new Valentine’s Day video.

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