A Brief History of Chocolate in the United Kingdom
Chocolate has been a popular ingredient in the United Kingdom for centuries. All of us have our favourite chocolates, and fond memories of enjoying them with loved ones and friends. In this article, we take you through the history of chocolate in the UK, from its introduction by Christopher Columbus through to modern times.
The cocoa bean was introduced to Europe from Mexico in 1528 by Christopher Columbus and his son Ferdinand.
The cocoa bean was introduced to Europe from Mexico in 1528 by Christopher Columbus and his son Ferdinand. This was the first time that chocolate had been seen outside of its native lands, but it wasn't until 1544 that the first pure chocolate drink was made by Spanish monks, using a recipe described by Hernando Cortez when he conquered Mexico. Ferdinand was the first to make chocolate in Europe; he brought back some cocoa beans and beanshells that he ground with sugar into a drink called "chocolatl."
The history of chocolate in the United Kingdom dates back to the early 17th Century, when chocolate first entered the country as a luxury pharmaceutical product.
Believe it or not, chocolate first arrived in the UK as a medicine! The history of chocolate in the United Kingdom dates back to the 17th Century, when chocolate first entered the country as a luxury pharmaceutical product. Chocolate was first introduced to Britain by Spanish merchants who came to trade with Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603). At that time, it was thought that consuming chocolate had medicinal benefits and could help cure ailments such as colds, headaches, and fevers.
Chocolate was very expensive and only available in small quantities; therefore, it was mainly consumed by wealthy aristocrats.
The earliest documented evidence of drinking chocolate in England dates from 1657 and is associated with the Quaker botanist and antiquarian John Ray.
The earliest documented evidence of drinking chocolate in England dates from 1657 and is associated with the Quaker botanist and antiquarian John Ray. Ray was a friend of Samuel Pepys, who was an English naval administrator, Member of Parliament, and author. In 1686, Ray published his book The Natural History or Philosophical Collections containing several letters written by himself to his friends at London and Bristol concerning the plants which are most common in England; their virtues etc., one letter being on "Drinking Chocolate". In this letter he describes how to make it from recipes provided by other scientists including Sir Hans Sloane who had been president of the Royal Society since 1680 until 1725 (and whose name continues to be used for several science prizes).
In 1730 French royal confectioner Doret established a shop on Fleet Street in London.
Doret's shop was on Fleet Street in London. Doret was a French royal confectioner, who established his shop in 1730. It quickly became popular among fashionable society and the aristocracy for their high-quality chocolate.
In 1763, Cadbury Brothers launched the first manufacturing business in Britain dedicated to cocoa and chocolate production—and it has been making delicious products ever since!
Joseph Fry found success in 1847 using a press to make moulded chocolate.
In 1847, Joseph Fry and his brother John founded the J.S. Fry & Sons Company in Bristol. It was here that Joseph set out to make moulded chocolate bars using a press. This would be the first time such a bar would be made, and it would mark an important step forward for chocolate production in Great Britain.
The company's products were renowned through their use of high quality ingredients and manufacturing processes—and they were also known for being among the first to produce milk chocolate! In fact, this innovation came about when Joseph’s son, Joseph Storrs Fry (also known as “Storr”), developed a method of heating sweetened condensed milk with cocoa powder and sugar until thickened into a paste-like substance which could then be shaped into squares or cylinders before cooling down again so it could hold its shape during packaging processes later on down stream from there...
In 1864 Richard Cadbury produced one of his more elaborate designs, featuring a picture of his father's factory on the front and a poem on the back.
In 1864 Richard Cadbury produced one of his more elaborate designs, featuring a picture of his father's factory on the front and a poem on the back. The poem reads:
"There is not a place like this in all the world!
The wonderful sight you will see here today;
If you'll come out to Bournville and spend an hour or two.
You'll find it such pleasant company."
Over the next two decades Cadbury, Fry and Rowntree would battle for dominance of the British market.
Over the next two decades Cadbury, Fry and Rowntree would battle for dominance of the British market. Cadbury was the first to produce milk chocolate (in 1866). Fry and Rowntree were also successful, thanks to their innovative marketing strategies. For instance, George Crossfield from Fry's invented the first commercial chocolate bar in 1847; he also created a machine that could manufacture them quickly and efficiently. In 1888 Fry's introduced menagerie bars with animals on them so that children could recognise what they were eating when exposed to this new treat for the first time!
In 1868 John Cadbury opened his first shop in Birmingham selling cocoa powder made from roasted cocoa beans imported from South America. However by 1905 he had switched over entirely to making chocolate because it sold better than cocoa did at that time due to increasing demand during World War One.
The 1901 merger between Cadbury Brothers Limited of Birmingham and J. S. Fry & Sons Limited that formed Cadbury-Fry Limited (renamed Cadbury plc in 1969).
The Cadbury-Fry merger was the first step towards a full union between the two companies, but it wasn't until 1969 that Cadbury Brothers Limited joined Cadbury-Fry Limited to become Cadbury plc.
In 2010, Kraft Foods acquired Cadbury plc for $19 billion dollars—a staggering sum at the time. The acquisition was called "the most hostile takeover in British history."
As you can see from this brief history of chocolate in the United Kingdom, the story is a rich one. There are many reasons why people enjoy eating or drinking chocolate today and these range from its nutritional value in the case of dark chocolate, to its ability to comfort us when we crave something sweet. So go ahead and indulge yourself!
Has reading this article set off a chocolate craving? Take a look at our selection of chocolate bouquets and flower boxes - a perfect treat for when you want something sweet.