The Dutch van Houten family made a name for itself in the chocolate world through father and son inventions. In 1828, the company received a patent for its hydraulic cacao press that was capable of exerting so much force it could squeeze the fat out the beans after roasting them. This inexpensive device allowed the beans to be ground into a powder that could be mixed with other ingredients, that eventually included powdered and then whole milk. Son, Conrad, made another discovery that moved the cause of solid chocolate forward. By adding alkaline salts to the cocoa powder, a process that came to be known as “Dutching,” chocolate could be made to taste milder and become darker in color, a process that is still widely used in chocolate-making today. By reducing the acidity of the chocolate, Dutching reduces the beneficial flavonol compounds in the beans, but back in the 19th century, chocolate lovers were thinking about flavor, not anti-oxidants.
Many of the most widely known chocolate bar manufacturers date back to the 1800s. After over half a century in the business, the Cadbury Company introduced the first dairy milk chocolate bar, a 1904 innovation that took the western world by storm. When names such as Nestle and Hershey entered the business, the race for the world’s sweet tooth was on. Ecuador was one of the major beneficiaries of the chocolate bar craze, becoming a worldwide exporter of cacao beans.
All who travel to Ecuador will be able to sample premiere chocolate in what remains today one of the world’s top cacao-producing nations. Visitors whose Ecuador tours take them to Guayaquil on their way to a Galapagos Islands cruise will be on the edge of the country’s most important cacao growing region that lies north of the city, and those on Ecuador Amazon tours will be able to see cacao trees growing in the wild. If you are considering travel to Ecuador, see the many trips we offer to visit the Galapagos Islands, the Pacific coast, the remote Ecuador Amazon and hiking and craft markets tours in the Ecuador Andes.