Marking some sweet celebrations for World Chocolate Day

It seems these days, there’s an international day for everything – and confectionery isn’t to be outdone with 7 July being that very occasion, marking World Chocolate Day.

Admittedly, against a backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it may appear a little frivolous to be celebrating a luxury item. However, as Confectionery Production has highlighted this week, a new study from FMCG Gurus has shown that consumers around the world have turned to confectionery in greater volumes as a means of coping with extremely challenging times as these sadly are for so many around the world right now.

As far as chocolate and its place in our affections is concerned, it’s only two years since a major discovery was made in Ecuador that revealed that humans’ use of cacao is in fact more than 1,500 years older than we had originally thought. The previous oldest trace of the use of such prized beans had been in the Mexico region around 4,000 years ago.

But a archaeological study in 2018 from the Canadian University of British Columbia found traces of chemical residues from the Theobroma Cacao (cacao plant) far into the Ecuadorian highlands, as part of the Mayo-Chinchipe culture where it is likely to have first been used as a ceremonial drink by ancient tribal nobility. It would take until the 16th century for it to be brought to Europe, where it went on to appear in far sweetened form and ultimately become chocolate confectionery by the likes of British-based Cadbury, Swiss firm Nestlé and Hershey over in the US during the 19th century.

It’s come an awfully long way even in the past few decades, as our title has discovered as part of the judging panel for the Academy of Chocolate’s annual awards (which as you’ll discover from this month’s edition of our magazine, has been postponed due to coronavirus). As the organisation explains, since its foundation 15 years ago, there have been a wealth of chocolatiers coming forward to show just how good chocolate can be from around the world, given the right blend of attention, skill and creativity.

In terms of World Chocolate Day itself, its origins appear somewhat hazy, though it has been marked for at least the past 10 years, it seems that everyone from individual artisans through to the likes of Cadbury, Ritter Sport, and ethical brands such as Divine Chocolate all promoting their confectionery heritage and engaging in marking the occasion with some fun moments on social media.

Though it seems there’s no one central theme to all the celebrations, seeing the wealth of posts from around the world really does bring home the message that as a product, it genuinely transcends traditional cultural boundaries around the world in being popular in all areas of the globe. It’s also probably a healthy thing it is available at all price points as well, from comparatively affordable confectionery offerings, through to the serious premium end of the market as you will find in this month’s Confectionery Production with the likes of To’ak Chocolate, there really is something for all tastes.

It’s an industry that remains a fascinating one to work in, whether its marking the latest finished product offerings, through to the machinery and systems which produce it, along with the agricultural sectors which deliver its core ingredients, there’s clearly an awful lot that goes into creating our favourite treats. So, we’ll certainly be looking forward to our very own celebrations for the entire value chain of the industry with the debut World Confectionery Conference on its rescheduled date on Friday, 26 March 2021, including our accompanying awards.

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