Column: A slip into icy water and a brief history of chocolate

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

Poor ol’ Jasper, a trapper for 30 seasons, he was in dire straights.

He’d fallen through the ice while checking a beaver set. Luckily, he had a pole in hand while bringing up the trap. Wet and very cold, he started his snow machine. Soon he was at the cabin and, after getting a roaring fire started in the big heater, and into warm clothes, he put on the kettle for a mug of hot chocolate. Of course, like any old timer he added a dash of rye.

Being a week before Christmas, Lorne, a neighbor, and his wife Leslie stopped by to drop off a present or two, including a box of chocolates. Chocolate ya say? The variety and selection of many chocolate lovers couldn’t be better today in all the variety stores and big box outlets, but where did it all begin?

Chocolate has been around for thousands of years, starting in the Amazon and Orinoco rain forests. Then the cocoa beans were cultured through history from the Aztecs to Spain and Portugal, then to Britain.

Read more: Wonka’s chocolate factory in production at Salmon Arm Secondary

Read more: Foodie Friday: Egg-ceptional chocolate from Okanagan chocolatier

The first chocolate/coffee houses appeared in 1657. The first chocolate mill in the U.S. was built in 1765 by John Hanan, who imported cocoa beans from the West Indies. It was done with the help of Dr. James Baker. From that partnership came Baker’s Chocolate.

The first chocolate bar was produced in 1847 by Fry’s of Bristol. In 1876, Daniel Peter, of Vevey, Switzerland experimented in making milk chocolate for drinking. Then Daniel and Henri Nestle, a pharmacist, formed the Nestle Co.

Jean Neuhaus, a Swiss pharmacist who invented praline chocolates in 1912, also created the ballotin, a small cardboard box designed to hold an assortment of chocolates, still popular today!

It seems there may be a shortage of coffee in the near future, but let’s hope chocolate will be around for a long time to come.

Jasper always carried a couple chocolate bars in his pack on the trail. He also had chocolates at hand when the neighbor kids snowmobiled over about Christmas time.

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