|Alternative names||Chocolate tablet|
|Main ingredients||Cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar|
|Ingredients generally used||Milk, nuts, fruit, caramel, nougat, wafers|
|Variations||Types of chocolate|
A chocolate bar (Commonwealth English) or candy bar (some dialects of American English) is a confection containing chocolate, which may also contain layerings or mixtures that include nuts, fruit, caramel, nougat, and wafers. A flat, easily breakable, chocolate bar is also called a tablet. In some varieties of English and food labeling standards, the term chocolate bar is reserved for bars of solid chocolate, with candy bar used for products with additional ingredients.
The manufacture of a chocolate bar from raw cocoa ingredients requires many steps, from grinding and refining, to conching and tempering. All these processes have been independently developed by chocolate manufacturers from different countries. There is therefore no precise moment when the first chocolate bar came into existence. Solid chocolate was already consumed in the 18th century. The 19th century saw the emergence of the modern chocolate industry; most manufacturing techniques used today were invented during this period.
Dark, milk and white are the main types of chocolate. Ingredients not derived from cocoa have been added to bars since the beginning of the chocolate industry, often to reduce production costs. A wide variety of chocolate bar brands are sold nowadays.
In many varieties of English, chocolate bar refers to any confectionery bar that contains chocolate. In some dialects of American English, only bars of solid chocolate are described as chocolate bars, with the phrase candy bar used as a broader term encompassing bars of solid chocolate, bars combining chocolate with other ingredients, and bars containing no chocolate at all. In Canada, while the term chocolate bar is commonly used for bars combining chocolate with other ingredients, only bars of solid chocolate can be labelled as a chocolate bar.
The term bar may refer to a large variety of shapes, including not oblong ones, such as squares. Small (bite-sized) chocolate pieces are however usually referred to as chocolates, regardless of shape. These include neapolitans, bonbons, pralines and truffles.
Solid chocolate was probably already consumed in pre-Columbian America, in particular by the Aztecs, despite the beverage being the traditional form of consumption of cocoa in Mesoamerica. In fact, any finely ground cocoa that is not immediately used to make a drink turns into solid chocolate. The grinding of the cocoa beans was done with a stone metate. Dominican friar Diego Durán mentions in his writings that Aztec soldiers carried small balls of ground cocoa among other military rations. Cocoa was introduced into Europe in the early 16th century, possibly already under its processed (solid) form.
Until the 18th century, chocolate was essentially consumed as a drink. Transport of cocoa beans was slow and difficult, therefore making the product very expensive in Europe. Chocolate was usually sold as a solidified ground but still grainy cocoa paste (in the form of blocks, sticks or balls) to be dissolved in water or milk, either raw or already sweetened and flavoured. It is unclear when bars or tablets of chocolate (meant to be eaten raw rather than grated into a drink) were made for the first time. It is known, however, that the consumption of solid chocolate by the wealthy increased by the end of the 18th century.
Up to and including the 19th century, confectionery of all sorts was typically sold in small pieces to be bagged and bought by weight. The introduction of chocolate as something that could be eaten as is, rather than used to make beverages or desserts, resulted in the earliest bar forms, or tablets. At some point, chocolates came to mean any chocolate-covered sweets, whether nuts, creams (fondant), caramel candies, or others. The chocolate bar evolved from all of these in the late-19th century as a way of packaging and selling candy more conveniently for both buyer and seller; however, the buyer had to pay for the packaging. It was considerably cheaper to buy candy loose, or in bulk.
The production of chocolate specifically meant to be eaten in bars may predate the French Revolution. The Marquis de Sade wrote to his wife in a letter dated May 16, 1779, complaining about the quality of a care package he had received while in prison. Among the requests that he made for future deliveries were for cookies that "must smell of chocolate, as if one were biting into a chocolate bar." This phrasing is highly suggestive of chocolate bars being eaten by themselves and not just grated into chocolate-based drinks, as was a far more common use at this time. Such a product would predate the invention of the cocoa press and the "Dutch cocoa" by Coenraad Johannes van Houten and other innovations which made chocolate suitable for mass-production.
The late 18th century saw the beginning of the mechanization of chocolate manufacturing. Water and wind power was used first, steam-powered machines followed. This not only allowed the production of chocolate on a larger scale, but also the production of chocolate with a finer texture.
In 1819, Swiss grocer and chocolatier François-Louis Cailler founded Cailler and opened a sophisticated and water-powered chocolate factory, which allowed him to produce solid chocolate that was molded into tablets. After a few years, sixteen different sorts of chocolate with different packagings were proposed. Shortly after, in 1826, another Swiss chocolatier, Philippe Suchard, opened a chocolate factory where he developed a millstone machine to grind cocoa and sugar, still used today: the melanger. Before opening his factory, Suchard realized that a small tablet sold at a pharmacy was worth three days' wages.
In 1836, French pharmacist Antoine Brutus Menier launched a chocolate tablet with six semi-cylindrical divisions. He previously used chocolate as a coating for pills.
Earlier, in 1828, Casparus van Houten patented an inexpensive method for pressing the fat from roasted cocoa beans. The center of the bean, known as the "nib", contains an average of 54 percent cocoa butter. Van Houten's machine – a hydraulic press – reduced the cocoa butter content by nearly half. This not only allowed the creation of defatted cocoa powder (to be used for chocolate drinks), but also the creation of pure cocoa butter.
In 1847, Joseph Fry discovered a way to mix the ingredients of cocoa powder, sugar and cocoa to manufacture a paste with a higher percentage of cocoa butter that could then be more easily molded into a solid chocolate bar. He is generally credited for the first mass-produced bar. Inspired by Fry, John Cadbury, founder of Cadbury, introduced his brand of the chocolate bar in 1849. That same year, Fry and Cadbury chocolate bars were displayed publicly at a trade fair in Bingley Hall, Birmingham.
Fry's chocolate factory, J. S. Fry & Sons of Bristol, England, began mass-producing chocolate bars and they became very popular. Over 220 Fry's products were introduced in the following decades. Fry's Cream Sticks, released in 1853, were the first filled chocolate candy, and led to the Fry's Chocolate Cream bar in 1866. Other products included the first chocolate Easter egg in the UK in 1873, and Fry's Turkish Delight (or Fry's Turkish bar) in 1914.
In addition to Cadbury and Fry, Rowntree's and Terry's were major British chocolate companies, as chocolate manufacturing expanded in England throughout the rest of the century.
Rodolphe Lindt, a Swiss confectioner, discovered the conching process in 1879. Conching evenly blends cocoa butter with cocoa solids and sugar, therefore making the chocolate perfectly smooth. By the 1920s, it became a standard process in the chocolate industry. The last stage of chocolate manufacturing, tempering, was also developed at around this time. Tempering allows the production of chocolate that is perfectly hard at room temperature and that have an attractive shiny appearance.
A few years earlier, in 1875, milk chocolate makes its appearance. It was developed by another Swiss confectioner, Daniel Peter. He was able to make milk chocolate with the help of his neighbour Henri Nestlé, who was specialized in dehydrated milk products. Daniel Peter launched his successful Gala Peter brand in 1887. Cailler and Suchard followed in the late 19th century, and other factories opened in Switzerland at that time.
In 1897, following the lead of Swiss companies, Cadbury introduced its own line of milk chocolate bars in the UK. Cadbury Dairy Milk, first produced in 1905, became the company's best selling bar.
In the United States, immigrants who arrived with candy-making skills drove the development of new chocolate bars. Milton S. Hershey, a Pennsylvania caramel maker, saw a German-manufactured chocolate-making machine at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. He immediately ordered one for his Lancaster factory and produced the first American-made milk chocolate bar.
In Canada, Ganong Bros., Ltd. of St. Stephen, New Brunswick developed and began selling their version of the modern chocolate bar in 1910.
Chocolate bar sales grew rapidly in the early-20th century. During World War I, the U.S. Army commissioned a number of American chocolate makers to produce 40 pound blocks of chocolate. These were shipped to Army quartermaster bases and distributed to the troops stationed throughout Europe. When the soldiers returned home, their demand for chocolate contributed to the increasing popularity of the chocolate bar.
The first chocolate bars were plain chocolate, but often flavoured with spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla. Producers soon began combining chocolate with other ingredients such as nuts, fruit, caramel, nougat, and wafers. In 1830, Kohler added hazelnuts to chocolate bars and, in 1852, Caffarel added hazelnuts as a smooth paste to its chocolate, creating gianduja. Adding other, usually cheaper, ingredients to bars was also a way to reduce production costs. Approximately 30,000 varieties of candy bars existed in the United States during the 1920s, most of which were produced locally. The overwhelming majority of combination bars use milk chocolate.
A wide selection of similar chocolate snacks or nutritional supplements are produced with added sources of protein and vitamins, including energy bars, protein bars and granola bars.
A solid chocolate bar contains some or all of the following components: cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. The relative presence or absence of these define the subclasses of chocolate bar made of dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. In addition to these main ingredients a solid chocolate bar may contain flavorings such as vanilla and emulsifiers such as soy lecithin to alter its consistency. Some chocolate bars contain added milk fat, to make the chocolate softer, since milk fat is a softer fat than cocoa butter. While sugar is commonly used as a sweetener for chocolate bars, some chocolate bars use sugar alcohols such as maltitol as an alternative. Compound chocolate, which uses vegetable oils in place of cocoa butter, may be used as a less expensive alternative to true chocolate, though such a product may not be able to be labelled as "chocolate". Combination bars may contain a wide variety of additional ingredients.
The Wonka Bar was introduced as a fictional chocolate bar that served as a key story point in the 1964 novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. Wonka Bars appear in both film adaptations of the novel, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005). Wonka Bars were subsequently manufactured and sold in the real world, formerly by the Willy Wonka Candy Company, a division of Nestlé.
Some of the oldest preserved chocolate bars are two pieces of white and dark chocolate made between 1764 and 1795 for the king of Poland, Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski, as a gift for his courtiers. Each bar, possibly made by the royal confectioner in Warsaw, bears the King's monogram, SAR, and is on display in his summer residence, Palace on the Water, in Warsaw.
The world's largest chocolate bar was produced as a stunt by Thorntons plc (UK) on 7 October 2011. It weighed 5,792.50 kg (12,770.3 lb) and measured 4m by 4m by 0.35m.
On January 16, 2020, Mars Inc. received the Guinness World Record for largest chocolate nut bar. They produced a 12-foot by 27.5-inch by 27.5-inch Snickers that weighed 4,728 lbs which is the equivalent of 41,000 single-size Snickers.
On January 31, 2020, the Hershey Company beat the Guinness World Record for largest chocolate nut bar surpassing Mars Inc.'s Gigantic Snickers bar with a gigantic Reese's Take 5 Bar measuring 9 by 5.5 by 2 feet and weighing 5,943 lbs. The Take 5 chocolate bar gets its name from the 5 ingredients it contains: Reese's peanut butter, peanuts, pretzels, caramel and chocolate.
"Break" is a square chocolate bar with a loyal following in Greece.
Like so many other developments in the creation of familiar forms of chocolate, the development of bite-sized filled chocolates arranged in a box...
It is of interest that even though the rich and famous would drink their chocolate—the most traditional way of consuming chocolate—soldiers would be issued chocolate in hard form. Military rations would include chocolate made into wafers or pellets.
Most sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and eighteenth-century cacao was for drinking, but its consumption in solid form was not unheard of. To make a drink out of processed cacao beans they must be ground, and then, unless they are immediately made into a drink, the mass congeals. [...] There is no way of exactly dating the birth of the chocolate confection...
While the metate served many kitchen uses, it became a central focus for chocolate making in pre-Columbian Central America. From there, versions moved to Europe and North America to serve the same function.
The soldiers carried a quantity of provisions, such as toasted kernels as well as maize flour, bean flour, toasted tortillas, sun-baked tamales and others that had a kind of mold, great loads of chiles, and cacao that had been ground and formed into small balls.
Cacao first arrived in Spain in the 1520s, then the Spanish Netherlands in 1606 (Norton 2008). Braudel (1992) traces the first arrival of cacao to Europe in the form of loaves and tablets—already processed, but solid.
What constituted chocolate at the time? According to various inventories from Louisbourg, solid chocolate was sold as balls or sticks of varying weights. Chocolate came either "prepared," meaning that it had already been ground down into a paste of cocoa solids and fats, mixed with sugar and aromatics (usually cinnamon and vanilla, and sometimes anise, orange flower water, or ambergris – flavourings preferred by the French), then allowed to harden, or "unprepared," consisting of a hardened paste of plain chocolate. In the latter instance, spices and sweeteners would be added after the grated chocolate ball or stick was mixed with hot liquid.
At this point, chocolate was still consumed in liquid form and was mainly sold as pressed blocks of a grainy mass to be dissolved in water or milk...
Already by the end of the 18th century there had been a perceptible increase in the amount of chocolate being eaten, in slabs and pastilles...
In 1776, Doret patented a hydraulic chocolate grinding machine which reduced it to a paste and in 1795, Joseph Fry industrialised chocolate production in England when he started using a James Watt steam engine to grind his beans.
Then the nineteenth century brought coal, the steam engine, and technology that could smash cacao into an incredibly smooth paste for the first time, and it could be done on a large enough scale to make it cheap and accessible to more people.
Chocolate factories began to appear in Europe as early as 1728, but they used age-old labor-intensive methods to grind and churn their products. It was not until 1819 that the first sophisticated chocolate factory was established in Corsier, Switzerland, by François-Louis Cailler.
À partir de 1820, ce sont surtout les Suisses qui vont innover, créer, améliorer les techniques de chocolaterie. Le premier est François-Louis Cailler, l'inventeur de la tablette de chocolat telle que nous la connaissons aujourd'hui. En 1826, Philippe Suchard ouvre une chocolaterie à Serrière, près de Neuchâtel, en Suisse. Il met au point une machine à meules pour mélanger le sucre et le cacao. C'est un immense progrès.[From 1820, it was above all the Swiss who were to innovate, create and improve chocolate-making techniques. The first is François-Louis Cailler, the inventor of the chocolate tablet as we know it today. In 1826, Philippe Suchard opened a chocolate factory in Serrière, near Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He develops a millstone machine to mix sugar and cocoa. This is a huge progress.]
Pourtant il y en avait déjà pour tous les bourses, du «Pur Caraque» au «Commun sucré». Il s'en faisait alors à la cannelle et à la vanille. Le prix-courant d'alors disait: «Ceux à la cannelle demi batz en sus, ceux à la vanille un batz par livre de douze onces». Le tout formait une série de 16 qualités avec 16 emballages différents[However, there was already something for every wallet, from "Pur Caraque" to "Common sweet". Cinnamon and vanilla flavored chocolates were made. The list price then read: "Cinnamon ones half batz extra, vanilla ones one batz per pound of twelve ounces." The whole formed a series of 16 qualities with 16 different packaging]
Et la principale friandise est bien la tablette et non les granulés, les vermicelles, les paillettes, la poudre ou les décors plutôt présents en pâtisseries. Grâce à ce petit parallélépipède de cent grammes, vingt centimètres par neuf, le produit de luxe est devenu une friandise démocratique, définitivement sorti des pharmacies où était très cher, Philippe Suchard ayant calculé que guérir sa mère avec une plaque de quelques dizaines de grammes coûtait trois jours de salaire ouvrier.[And the main delicacy is the tablet and not the granules, vermicelli, flakes, powder or decorations rather present in pastries. Thanks to this small parallelepiped of one hundred grams, twenty centimeters by nine, the luxury product has become a democratic delicacy, definitively released from pharmacies where it was very expensive, Philippe Suchard having calculated that curing his mother with a tablet of a few tens of grams cost three days' wages.]
Les premières formes de tablettes, enveloppées de papier blanc, voient le jour. En 1836, Menier lance une tablette à six divisions semi-cylindriques. Le succès est au rendez-vous.[The first chocolate tablets, wrapped in white paper, are created. In 1836, Menier launched a tablet with six semi-cylindrical divisions. Success is on the way.]
In 1849 the first truly commercial eating chocolate appeared at a trade fair in Birmingham, England. The bars were made by a company called Fry, which added sugar and chocolate liquor to the cocao [sic] butter. Fry was followed by Cadbury.
Within a few years others followed the lead; by 1849 Cadbury was also selling eating chocolate.
By 1923, it was recorded that the "crunchy chocolates which sold in quantity only five to ten years ago have gone...
The next great Swiss innovation, also dating from 1879, was Rodolphe Lindt's invention of "conching" [...] Tempering, too, invented around this time, greatly advanced the culture of chocolate.
Les noisettes furent les premiers fruits à être ajoutés dans le chocolat solide, une innovation suisse due à Kohler en 1830.[Hazelnuts were the first fruits to be added to solid chocolate, a Swiss innovation due to Kohler in 1830.]
Le Gianduja est créé en 1852 par Isidore Caffarel, il est fait à base de noisettes finement broyées[Gianduja was created in 1852 by Isidore Caffarel, it is made from finely ground hazelnuts]
This emphasis on caloric heft led to the introduction of whipped nougat and marshmallow, which made bars appear larger and therefore more filling. All these additions also made the bars cheaper, since the quantity of expensive chocolate was minimized.
"The entire over-the-counter candy bar industry is 95 percent milk chocolate. People are weaned on it. Dark chocolate is a connoisseur's chocolate—more tasty, richer. As a result, a person who wants that will never buy milk." —Joe Foscaldo, Marketing Manager for Phillips Candy House (quoted in Boston Globe)
In 1904, Daniel Peter and Charles-Amédée Kohler became partners and founded the company Société Générale Suisse de Chocolats Peter et Kohler Réunis. Cailler began to produce their own Branches. The original Branche was first mentioned in Kohler's recipe books in 1896.
Emballée de rouge, de bleu ou de vert, la branche de chocolat au lait fait partie de l'identité helvétique. Créée en 1907 par Cailler dans son usine de Broc pour écouler les déchets et brisures de confiserie qui étaient refondus et roulés à la main en boudins [...] Emballée dans une feuille d'aluminium, elle fut appelée «branche». Cette appellation trop générale ne fut pas protégée. Elle devint peu à peu le nom générique de tout bâtonnet de chocolat, qu'il soit sorti de Broc ou fabriqué par les marques concurrentes qui toutes se mirent à copier l'original.[Wrapped in red, blue or green, the milk chocolate bar is part of the Swiss identity. Created in 1907 by Cailler in its factory in Broc to dispose of broken confectionery that was remelted and rolled by hand into sticks [...] Wrapped in aluminum foil, it was called a "branch". This too general appellation was not protected. It gradually became the generic name for any chocolate stick, whether it came out of Broc or manufactured by competing brands, all of which began to copy the original.]
Prudently, Theodor Tobler and his then company, Tobler AG, applied for a patent in 1909 in Bern to cover the manufacture and shape of the bar, and Toblerone thus became the first patented milk chocolate bar.
Compound coatings, which are products having the appearance but not the composition of chocolate, are often used as an outside layer or coating for biscuits, candy and frozen confections or as chips within baked goods. There should be no indication that compound coatings are "chocolate". However, "chocolate flavoured", "chocolate-like", and "chocolaty" have been accepted as appropriate descriptions of such coatings and chips.