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The Modern Industry of Chocolate


 

First invented by Native Americans as a drink, chocolate (which gets its name from the Aztecs) has become popular worldwide as a sweet treat. Chocolate can range from Tootsie rolls to gourmet candy or even wedding candy, and chocolate can also be made into chips for baking or as a liquid, such as hot chocolate (thus bringing it full circle). Some of the most chocolate-hungry nations today include the United States and Switzerland, who both have high rates of consumption per capita. Other kinds of candy aside from Tootsie rolls or chocolate bars can be found as well, such as mint candy or gummy candy. What’s the size of the American market for sweet chocolate, and when are some great times to try out this treat? There’s many ways to enjoy Tootsie rolls or candy, but no wrong way.

Americans and Chocolate

Often, it is the Swiss people who consume the most chocolate per capita, but Americans are not too far behind in this category, especially if this is broadened to all types of candy. Today, the average American eats nearly 25 pounds of candy every year, and about 50% of that candy comes from the 51 or so chocolate bars that Americans eat annually. This is a frequent treat; it has been found that nearly one in four American adults will choose at least one piece of candy to eat every day of the week, and this is often chocolate. The average American eats chocolate for nearly 50% of their yearly candy consumption, though this may vary from person to person based on personal preference. This adds up fast: around 2.8 billion tons of chocolate is consumed by Americans every year, and that averages out to 11 pounds of it per person. When is the right time for Tootsie rolls, mints, or gummy candies?

Candy for the Occasion

There are many times when it makes the most sense to buy candy for oneself or present it to someone else. For kids, common times for candy may include giving it as a reward for a job well done, such as A’s on a report card or Halloween. In fact, Halloween ranks as one of the biggest candy holidays in the United States due to this holiday’s association with trick-or-treaters collecting candy and similar treats from neighbors. This is nothing new; photographs of trick-or-treaters date back to at least the 1910s. Kids may also appreciate candy on their birthday, or a similar occasion. Candy might also act as token reward during a competition of sorts, such as at a summer camp or other competitive event.

What about adults? Very few people over 18 go trick-or-treating (some people do so for the novelty), and adults don’t look forward to candy as a reward for a job well done. A manager is unlikely to hand over a pack of gummy bears to an employee who lands a big sale, but candy, most often chocolate, is still popular. Although this is a subjective field, a person may note that chocolate is by far the most popular candy among adults alongside mints, with card candies and gummy candies being associated with kids.

St. Valentine’s Day may be considered the adult Halloween where candy is concerned. On this holiday, it is a staple to give sweet treats to a loved one, and chocolate dominates. Chocolate does not have to be a plain milk chocolate bar; Valentine’s Day chocolate boxes include pieces that have many different flavors and extra ingredients. Cherries, coconut shavings, toffee, and much more can be expected in a Valentine’s Day box of chocolate. Mother’s Day is another popular time for candy, as chocolate boxes are common for that holiday as well (beer might be more suitable for Father’s Day).

Adults may also enjoy semi-candy, as in dessert fondue. Often, an event such as a holiday dinner, mixer party, or wedding may include a chocolate fountain, and party-goers may dip strawberries, cherries, and more to create a sweet treat. Chocolate-covered strawberries and cherries are also popular for St. Valentine’s Day or a wedding anniversary, most often with the man giving it to his wife, although there may be variations of this scenario as each couple sees fit.

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