Once worshiped by the Mayan civilisation of Central America and Southern Mexico, who believed it to be of divine origin, over the centuries, the cocoa bean was transformed into a product of mass consumption, throughout Europe and the United States and a massive global industrial chocolate industry was born.
Now universally adored, and at one time the exclusive preserve of aristocrats and elites, chocolate was for centuries a symbol of decadent deliciousness that every common man and woman aspired to taste at least once.
The first chocolate factories opened in Spain, where the dried fermented beans brought back by the Spanish fleets were roasted and ground. By the 17th century chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe and chocolate powder from which the drink was made, was being exported to other parts of Europe. By this time chocolate was also believed to have nutritious, medicinal and even aphrodisiac properties, but it remained a privilege of the rich largely until it was mass produced in the late 1700's.
Today, chocolate is an $83 billion a year business with Europeans accounting for nearly half of all the chocolate consumed in the world. The average Brit, Swiss or German will each eat around 11 kilograms of chocolate a year.
Chocolate is considered to be one of life's perfect indulgences and in certain regions and parts of the world chocolate has also proved to be a big tourist drawcard… and in the Hunter Valley, the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company is the sweetest and most addictive attraction around.
Established in the Hunter Valley more than 16 years ago, the Hunter Valley Chocolate Company is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region. It’s so popular that they now have three outlets in Pokolbin alone! The first store was opened at Hunter Valley Gardens Shopping Village where chocolate lovers can also take a break from browsing over the seemingly endless choice and relax with a mug of coffee.
The second store is at Peterson House on Broke Road in Pokolbin, and the third and largest outlet is located just further down the road at ''Twenty-3-Twenty'' Broke Rd. This large barn-like facility also features a large viewing window where the Chocolatiers and Fudge-makers can be observed busily making the range of chocolate and fudge for all three outlets. It’s well worth a visit.
So when you are ready to take a break from wine tasting (did I just say that out loud?), be sure to drop in at any of the three Hunter Valley Chocolate Company retail outlets to view and sample their fine range of delectable chocolates. See for yourself what everyone is talking about and treat yourself to a holiday treat, find the perfect gift for foodie friends or simply indulge.