Chocolate Facts for KS2 Children and Teachers
Chocolate is an ever-popular topic to explore with primary school children! Check out these fascinating chocolate facts for KS2 children and teachers. You might find out some surprising information about the world’s favourite sweet treat!
What is chocolate?
Chocolate is a sweet, brown food made from cocoa beans. It usually comes in solid bars but can also be powered or melted. Chocolate is a sweet treat that is eaten all around the world.
Who first discovered chocolate?
The history of chocolate began in Central America, in an area that is now southern Mexico. The Maya, who lived in the area from about 250-900 AD, first used chocolate as a cold drink, as well as for currency; instead of trading coins, they would trade cocoa beans.
The Aztecs (who lived from about 1200-1500 AD) also drank chocolate, although they drank theirs hot instead of cold. Aztec legend stated that the god Quetzalcoatl brought cocoa to earth. He was then cast out of paradise for giving it to humans because only gods were fit to drink cocoa!
Aztecs picking cocoa fruit from a cocoa tree
When Europeans like Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas in the 15th century, they brought the cocoa bean back to Europe with them.
For more in-depth learning about how the Aztecs and Maya used chocolate, check out this ready-to-teach History lesson for KS2!
When was solid chocolate first eaten?
It wasn’t until 1847 that the first chocolate bar was produced. The British chocolate company J.S. Fry & Sons created the first edible chocolate bar from cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar. Soon, many other companies, such as Cadburys, Lindt and Hershey’s all started producing their own solid chocolate bars and the modern obsession with chocolate was born!
An early Fry's chocolate advert
How is chocolate made?
The journey of a chocolate bar begins with cocoa beans. The beans are harvested between October and December when they are dried in the sun before being sent to a chocolate factory.
Cocoa fruit on a cocoa tree (left) and the beans inside the cocoa fruit (right).
In the chocolate factory, the beans are heated in a roaster which makes them break down into small pieces. The shells are then removed. The centres of the beans are then ground into a thick brown liquid which is known as ‘cocoa liqueur’. This is then mixed with milk and sugar.
The liquid is then dried into a crumb-like consistency before being squashed together by a giant roller. The chocolate is then tempered, which involves heating and cooling the mixture several times until it reaches the right consistency.
It is then poured into moulds and cooled to create the final chocolates.
Liquid chocolate being poured into moulds in a factory.
Where do cocoa beans grow?
Cocoa beans grow in humid tropical climates. Most of the world’s cocoa beans are grown around the equator in countries such as Brazil, Ecuador and Peru in South America, Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire in Africa, and Indonesia and Malaysia in Asia.
What is the difference between dark, milk and white chocolate?
The difference between milk and dark chocolate is the amount of milk and sugar that is added, as well as the amount of cocoa solids used in the chocolate. Cocoa butter is the fatty part of the cocoa bean whereas cocoa solids refers to the powder that is left behind.
Milk chocolate uses a lower percentage of cocoa solids (usually around 25 per cent) and adds much more milk and sugar. Dark chocolate uses between 70 - 99 per cent cocoa solids. It is much less sweet than milk chocolate.
White chocolate is technically not chocolate at all because it only uses cocoa butter and not cocoa solids.
Explore the different melting points of different types of chocolate with this fun Melting Chocolate Experiment Science lesson!
How much chocolate is eaten every year?
In the UK, it is estimated that people eat on average 11kg of chocolate every year. This is the same as about 3 bars a week, or 156 bars every year!
Despite cocoa beans growing in South America, Africa and Asia, 50% of all chocolate in the world is eaten in Europe, with Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, the UK and Norway being the top chocolate eaters.
It is estimated that around 7.5 million tons of chocolate is eaten around the world every year! A ton is about the same weight as a polar bear.
What is fair trade chocolate?
Cocoa farmers have to work really hard to grow and harvest cocoa beans, and they often aren’t paid well for their work. Big companies buy the beans cheaply, often leaving the cocoa farmers without enough money for their crop.
The fair trade movement aims to make sure cocoa farmers are paid fairly for the work they do and the cocoa beans they produce. Next time you buy a chocolate bar, check to see if it has a fair trade logo. If it does, you know that the cocoa farmer who produced the beans for your chocolate bar was paid fairly.
The Fairtrade Foundation logo
Is chocolate good or bad for you?
Well, both actually. Eating too much chocolate is bad for you because of the high fat and sugar content. Eating too much chocolate can cause problems such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
However, studies have shown that eating a little chocolate every month has a range of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels, keeping your brain functioning well and reducing the risks of heart problems. This is particularly true of dark chocolate; the higher the cocoa solid content, the higher the benefits. So if you want to eat chocolate, consider swapping milk or white chocolate for dark chocolate next time you have a craving!
15 Fascinating Chocolate Facts:
- Chocolate has a special melting point. It is the only edible substance that melts at just below body temperature, usually between 30 and 32 degrees Celsius. That’s why chocolate melts so quickly on your tongue!
- On that note, M&Ms were invented in 1941 during World War 2 so that soldiers could enjoy chocolate without it melting.
- The scientific word for the tree that cocoa beans grow on is Theobroma cacao, which means ‘food of the gods’.
- So many Toblerone bars are sold every year that if you laid them out end to end, they would stretch further than the whole circumference of the world!
- It takes about 200 cocoa beans to make 1kg of chocolate and each cocoa tree produces about 2500 beans.
- Cocoa trees are very delicate. Cocoa farmers often lose about 30 per cent of the cocoa beans in their crop each year.
- Cocoa trees can live for 200 years but usually only produce beans that can be used to make chocolate for 25 years of their lives.
- Around 40 to 50 million people around the world depend on cocoa farming to earn their living.
- The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 cups of cocoa every day from a special golden cup.
- Chocolate is very bad for dogs and cats. It can make them very ill if they eat it.
- 7th July is National Chocolate Day in the UK. It commemorates the day in 1550 when chocolate was supposedly first brought to Europe. International Chocolate Day is celebrated on 13th September.
- Pure cocoa can help prevent tooth decay. It is only the sugar added to chocolate that makes it bad for our teeth.
- Milk chocolate was first invented in Switzerland in 1875. It took him 8 years to get the recipe right!
- The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves. This triggers relaxation.
- A study carried out at the Columbia University Medical Centre suggests that chocolate can improve your memory.
Check out all the lessons in our ready-to-teach cross-curricular Chocolate Topic for Year 3 and Year 4 children in KS2.