Some things are invented. Some things are ‘developed’. Some things are created just like chocolate. Other things are just, well, there. Like puppies, the ocean and sunshine, it is almost impossible to imagine the world without them.

Many are in fact so old it is difficult to know exactly invented them originally. Beer, for example. Who invented beer? No one knows.

There is even a song about this fact, alternatively titled ‘beer, beer, beer’,  ‘An Ode to Charlie Mopps – the Man Who Invented Beer’ and ‘Charlie Mopps’, which proports to celebrate the ‘man who invented beer’ but is, in fact, an entirely mythological figure, making the song rather funny to those privy to this information.

History of delicacies intertwined

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Particularly considering the composer of said song is also completely unknown, the tune being an old British folk song penned before the days of such modern concepts of ‘credit’ and ‘royalties’. It is a similar situation with the much loved, much loathed, seemingly ubiquitous fedora.

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Do you know who made the first created the snappy style of hat that has, in later years, become the unofficial trademark of Hipsters the world over form from Victoria BC to Tribeca? If you said yes, stop lying. No one does.

How am I so damned sure? No one does, at least not anymore. Far from being the fashionable item it is today, the fedora was not created by a forward looking designer or even a particularly hip gangster looking to stand out.

First chocolate bar

The very first ‘fedora’ in existence was made by the unknown costume designer employed for the 1898 opera of the same name, by French proto-Feminist writer and philosopher Victorien Sandou.

Not losing its edge until well into the 20th century, the original fedoras were women’s garments, seen as symbols of early women’s liberation. Something with a similarly complex history is the always popular and seemingly permanent delicacy, which raises the question how was this cocoa delicacy invented.

When versus how

The whens, hows and whys of chocolate’s origins, are often tangled to the point of the indistinguishable. Much like a string of Christmas lights that have been left in the bottom of the old cardboard box a bit too long.

To make things a bit easier it would be best if you set aside all modern notions of what chocolate is or at least what it has become. They really do not apply here and it will lessen any potential shock. Okay, ready?

To the roots of chocolate

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What is now known as chocolate was first confected in South America roughly eight hundred years ago. This is according to actual anthropologists not Wikipedia, the oldest example yet found having been dug up in Honduras and came in the form of a fermented, alcoholic beverage made from the pulp of the cacao fruit.

This was at a time when cacao beans were considered valuable enough to be used as currency, much like tulip bulbs in the Netherlands at certain points in history. It was not until the Europeans docked their ships on South American shores that the word ‘sweet’ belonged anywhere near chocolate.

By the 17th century liquid chocolate became a fashionable drink in Europe. It was not until 1828 hat an unknown Dutch chemist managed to make a powdered version of chocolate, removing the cacao butter from the liquid version, which made it possible to make the first chocolate solids as they are known today.

 

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