This passage discusses the origins of chocolate.

Lexile Level: 980L

Categories: History

Although chocolate was discovered nearly 2,000 years ago, people didn't eat it until about 150 years ago. During most of its history, chocolate has been a drink, an expensive beverage enjoyed by the wealthy. Ancient Mexicans and Central Americans ground cocoa beans by hand, often for their kings. They mixed beans with chili peppers and spices and added water. The bitter beverage tasted nothing like today's sweet hot chocolate! Christopher Columbus brought a handful of cocoa beans back from the Caribbean islands and gave them to the king and queen of Spain in 1502. Chocolate remained a Spanish secret for nearly 100 years. But eventually, people all over Europe found out about the tasty drink. Chocolate became cheaper when steam engines began grinding great quantities of cocoa beans in the late 1700s. The first chocolate factory in the United States was built in 1765, before the Revolutionary War. Today, the average American eats 11 pounds of chocolate each year. Switzerland's citizens eat the most chocolate. They eat more than 21 pounds per person each year!

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