These are just some interesting tidbits about chocolate. Around 50% of the 2.8 billion pounds of candy consumed by Americans each year is chocolate.

In Belgium, approximately 17,000 people are employed in the chocolate industry. Belgian chocolate is renowned around the world and pralines were invented in Belgium in 1912. The composition of Belgian chocolate has been strictly regulated by law since 1884. A minimum of 35% pure cocoa must be used and vegetable-based fats are prohibited in the production of Belgian chocolate.

White chocolate does not contain cocoa and isn’t technically chocolate at all. It will offer none of the health benefits either. Say goodnight, white chocolate.

For Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the United States military, with Hershey as the primary manufacturer, used a special heat-resistant type of chocolate that could withstand temperatures of up to 140°F (60°C) before melting! Dubbed the Desert Bar, the U.S. Army’s Natick Labs developed this almost unmeltable chocolate bar in the late 1980s.

During World War II, chocolate was included with American soldiers’ rations. It was called the D ration Bar. It weighed 4oz, could withstand high temperatures, and was created to only taste “a little better than a boiled potato” based on the instructions given by Army Quartermaster Colonel Paul Logan, who worked with Hershey’s Chocolate to design the bar. The military didn’t want their soldiers to eat too much chocolate.

Cacao, which is the primary ingredient needed to make chocolate, grows in the deep tropical regions of Central and South America on trees that can live up to 200 years (but they only produce cocoa beans for approximately 25 years). It has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years. While the main ingredient for chocolate is technically cacao beans, they are known throughout the cocoa industry as cocoa beans due to a misspelling.

According to the Aztecs, cacao seeds are a gift from the God of wisdom. They were commonly used as currency in the Aztec culture in the 14th – 16th centuries. A turkey egg could be purchased with three beans and a small rabbit with 30 beans, just to give you some examples. It takes 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.

Moderate chocolate consumption, especially if it’s dark chocolate with high cacao content, may have health benefits like improving the circulatory system, reducing blood pressure, decreasing the risk of various cardiovascular problems, and lowering cholesterol. Cognitive abilities like attention span, memory, reaction time and even problem-solving skills can get a boost from dark chocolate as well! A lot of the health benefits are believed to originate from the high amounts of antioxidants in dark chocolate.

It is also believed that the naturally occurring amino acid phenylethylamine in chocolate may act as an aphrodisiac and increase sexual desire. There are also claims that it can cure hangovers!

According to numbers collected in 2012, Swiss people consumed the most amount of chocolate per capita with 26 pounds consumed in a year per person. Americans consume about 12 pounds per year on average. Switzerland is also ranked as the most sexually satisfied country in the world. Coincidence?!

40% of all almonds and peanuts produced in the world are used for chocolate products. Almond chocolate is a beautiful thing.

BRB going to eat some chocolate!