Chocoholics unite! You’re cordially invited to celebrate National Chocolate Day not one, not two, not three but four times per year.
If there were ever a food worthy of a holiday, it would be chocolate. From the tree to the seed to the bean, there’s enough love to go around. It’s sweet and a little bit savory, and it’s good for you with neural properties that improve brain power. In fact, there’s even a correlation between a nation’s consumption of chocolate and the number of Nobel Laureates.
Chocolate is amazing; there’s no doubt. It lives up to its name – the chocolate tree – Theobroma cacao – translates to “food of the gods.” Keep reading to find out how and when to celebrate National Chocolate Day.
When Is National Chocolate Day?
Get ready – there are four chocolate days to celebrate.
The U.S. National Confectioners Association gives us four days to indulge in cocoa-related treats with two National Chocolate Days.
The two national holidays are on October 28th and December 28th. If you want to go global, celebrate International Chocolate Day on September 13th.
Chocolate Day itself falls on July 7th.
The History Of National Chocolate Day
The history of the three national chocolate days remains unclear. While some national holidays are declared by the U.S. president or state and local governments, the holidays celebrating milky cocoa don’t fall in this category. Some holidays are also introduced by manufacturers or interest groups – sign us up – but the origins of the October, December, and July dates remain unknown.
International Chocolate Day, however, has a unique connection to the world of confectionary. September 13th – International Chocolate Day – also happens to be Milton Hershey’s birthday.
Who Was Milton Hershey?
The name Hershey rings a bell for any American chocolate enthusiast. Milton Snavely Hershey was born on September 13th, 1857 in the Derry Township of Pennsylvania.
Hershey was born into a Mennonite community and spoke Pennsylvania Dutch during his early years. He spent his formative years helping out on his family’s farm and left school for good after completing the fourth grade. In 1871, Hershey branched out and began working as an apprentice at a local German-English newspaper. The young man was hopeless at work, and he was fired after dropping his hat in a printing machine. Rather than begging for his job back, Hershey, now a 14-year-old boy, moved to Lancaster, PA to become an apprentice in an entirely different field: confectionary.
The young lad learned chocolate making skills from Joseph Royer for four years before heading off the to the city of Philadelphia to try his hand at entrepreneurship. He wasn’t lucky from the start: it took several tries before any business took off. His first success was with Lancaster Caramel Company, which he eventually sold for $1 million. The proceeds of the sale in 1900 went right back into the candy business. Hershey took his experience, recipes, and proceeded to start the Hershey Chocolate Company near his childhood home in Derry Township.
Milton Hershey’s birthday was more than a family celebration. It became a common cause for celebration during trying times in Pennsylvania. In 1937, Hershey Chocolate workers organized and held the first strike. The strike divided the town and was a great source of pain for all involved. One of the ways the company and town began to health was through the celebration of Milton’s 80th birthday.
Hershey’s 80th birthday celebration wasn’t limited to a sheet cake in the company canteen. Organizers created an event to take place at the Hershey Sports Arena. Over 8,000 revelers showed up to enjoy performances from all the community bands, a vaudeville show featuring New York City’s greatest performers, dancing, and refreshments. Of course, Hershey was the start of the show: the famous confectioner received gold ring featuring the trademark symbol created out of diamonds, a maroon silk robe, and a baby in a cocoa pod.
Chocolate Didn't Start with Hershey
World Chocolate Day may offer a nod to the confectionary legend, but chocolate took off much earlier than that.
The cacao plant is native to Central and South America and enjoys special prominence in Mexico. Archaeological evidence puts the earliest known cultivation dates at 1250 B.C., but ancient cultures may well have been enjoying chocolate long before that.
The Mayans and the Aztecs enjoyed chocolate long before Europeans knew of its existence. Cacao was plentiful: it grew in their yards and villages. Mayans brewed ceremonial beverages with the seeds. Artisanal chocolate with chili isn’t new either: the Aztecs brewed xocoatl, which they flavored with chilis and vanilla.
Columbus brought chocolate back to his European patrons as early as 1504. By 1519, the conquistadors, who decimated Mayan and Aztec cultures, took on the love of chocolate. It wasn’t until 1550 that Europe officially experienced its first chocolate cravings with July 7th (or today’s Chocolate Day) being the exact date of its acceptance.
From there, chocolate took off. It was the dessert du jour for French Royalty in Versailles. Londoners opened chocolate houses believing it could cure tuberculosis. Once the Dutch added milk and sugar to cocoa in the early 1700s, the humble but powerful plant became unstoppable.
5 Ways To Enjoy National Chocolate Day
Enjoying National Chocolate Day is simple. Buy chocolate, eat, repeat. If you’re looking to do a little something extra this year, consider one of these fun ways to celebrate:
Visit A Chocolatier
Your local chocolatier or a branch of a national brand is undoubtedly celebrating, so why not join them?
Join in on a tasting session or even a chocolate making session to learn how your local candy makers contribute to chocolate culture.
No local chocolate nearby? These confectioners and retailers are known to celebrate both National and World Chocolate Day:
Learn A New Recipe
Part of the joy of chocolate lies in its diversity. It’s hard to find a way that it doesn’t work in a sweet treat.
Instead of enjoying the same chocolate dessert you make every year (or every week), branch out and try something new. Here are some interesting chocolate pairings you’ve never tried before:
Milk Chocolate and…
Dark Chocolate and…
White Chocolate and…
What other unique flavour pairings can you think of?
Make It Healthy
Chocolate is healthy, but we tend to lump our cocoa in with more sugar than is good for us.
Rather than swimming in sugar this year, enjoy chocolate in a way that brings out all the nutrients we know it offers.
Start by buying pure cocoa – not one loaded down with added sugars and other unnecessary ingredients like corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils. Darker chocolate is better for your health, and an organic brand often mitigates the gross ingredients otherwise found in commercial chocolate.
Found an amazing natural chocolate source? Transform it into a dessert that reminds you of all the reasons you love this sweet treat so much. Try a recipe like:
Can’t find a bar you like? Make your own chocolate.
Make Your Own Chocolate
Finding a chocolate bar appealing to both your wallet and your cravings isn’t always easy. So why not make your own?
Chocolate making doesn’t require special machinery or weeks of waiting. Some recipes require nothing more than cacao powder and coconut oil poured into a mould. Want to sweeten it up? Try using agave syrup or another sugar alternative in your recipe.
Return To Chocolate’s Roots
Chocolate didn’t become the milky, sugary confection we know today until relatively recently in history. Return to chocolate’s roots with traditional Aztec and Maya flavors. Remember, chocolate’s primary use lay in beverages.
Make an Aztec Hot or Iced Chocolate with cocoa, vanilla, or even chili pepper. Want something even spicier? Substitute chili pepper for cayenne.
Celebrate Chocolate Year Round
National Chocolate Day is but three days a year. In our opinion, that’s 362 days to few.
If you’re in a celebratory mood, don’t worry. There are plenty of chocolate celebration days to go around. Here are just a few more days to celebrate:
- 27th – National Chocolate Cake Day
- 1st – National Dark Chocolate Day
- 28th – National Chocolate Souffle Day
- 2nd – National Chocolate Mousse Day
- 15th – National Chocolate Chip Day
- 7th – National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
- 26th – National Chocolate Pudding Day
- 7th – World Chocolate Day
- 28th – National Milk Chocolate Day
- 12th – National Chocolate Milkshake Day
- 13th – International Chocolate Day
- 22nd – National White Chocolate Day
- 27th – National Chocolate Milk Day
- 16th – National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day