20 Chocolate Facts

20 Chocolate Facts

 1. There Are Multiple Celebrations of Chocolate Each Year.

Holiday makers are constantly on the hunt for a reason to munch on chocolate, so the calendar offers plenty of excuses to buy a bar. July 7 is also Chocolate Day, a nod to the historical tradition that the day marks when chocolate was first brought to Europe on July 7, 1550, though a number of sources argue that it might have hit the continent’s shores as far back as 1504, thanks to Christopher Columbus. Official day or not, we do know that chocolate first arrived in Europe some time in the 16th century. There’s also National Milk Chocolate Day on July 28, International Chocolate Day on September 13, and, of course, National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day on November 7.

2. Chocolate Is Actually a Vegetable—Kind Of.

Milk and dark chocolate come from the cacao bean, which grows on the cacao tree (theobroma cacao), an evergreen from the family Malvaceae (other members of the family include okra and cotton). This makes the most important part of the sweet treat a vegetable.

3. White Chocolate Is Not Chocolate.

Because it doesn’t contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor, white chocolate isn’t chocolate in the strict sense. But it does contain parts of the cacao bean—mainly cocoa butter.

4. The Cacao Bean Is Native to Mexico and Both Central and South America.

It’s believed that inhabitants of these areas first started cultivating the bean as far back as 1250 BCE, and perhaps even earlier.

5. Hot Chocolate Was The First Chocolate Treat.

Cacao was brewed in both Mexican and Aztec culture, though the result was nothing like today’s hot chocolate—it was a typically bitter concoction that was often used for ceremonial occasions like weddings.

6. Marie Antoinette Loved Hot Chocolate (The Modern Kind).

Marie didn’t just love cake, she also loved chocolate, and hot chocolate was frequently served at the Palace of Versailles. It wasn’t just the taste everyone loved—it was also believed that the drink was an aphrodisiac.

7. Cacao Was Once Used as Currency.

The Aztecs loved and valued the cacao bean so highly that they used it as currency during the height of their civilization.

8. Spanish Friars Helped Spread the Love.

After cacao and chocolate were introduced to Europe, traveling Spanish friars took it to various monasteries, handily spreading it around the continent.

9. A Pair of British Confectioners Invented Solid Chocolate.

The Fry and Sons shop concocted what they called “eating chocolate” in 1847 by combining cocoa butter, sugar, and chocolate liquor. This was a grainy, solid form of the treat.

10. Cocoa and Cacao Are the Same Thing.

The words are interchangeable! It’s all one bean.

11. Napoleon Loved Chocolate.

The French leader demanded that wine and chocolate be made available to him and his senior advisers even during intense military campaigns.

12. Baker’s Chocolate Isn’t Just For Baking.

Dr. James Baker and John Hannon founded their chocolate company—later called Walter Baker Chocolate—in 1765. That’s where the term “Baker’s Chocolate” comes from, not to denote chocolate that’s just meant for cooking.

13. Milton Hershey Really Was a Candy King.

The Pennsylvania native may be best known for starting The Hershey Chocolate Company in good old Hershey, PA, but he got his start in candy long before hooking up with chocolate. His founded his first company, The Lancaster Caramel Company, when he was 30 years old.

14. Milk Chocolate Was Invented in Switzerland

Daniel Peter created the tasty treat in 1875—after eight years of trying to make his recipe work. Condensed milk ended up being the key ingredient.

15. Making Chocolate Is Hard Work.

Despite its regal background and revered status, the cacao bean doesn’t just magically turn into chocolate—it takes about 400 beans to make a single pound of the good stuff.

16. The First Chocolate Bar Was Made in England.

Way back in 1842, the Cadbury company made the very first chocolate bar. The company is still in existence, and is perhaps most famous for their delightful Easter-themed treats.

17. Most Cacao Is Now Grown in Africa.

Despite its Amazonian roots, most cacao—nearly 70 percent of the world’s supply—comes from Africa. The Ivory Coast is the largest single producer, providing about 30 percent of all the world’s cacao.

18. Cacao Trees Can Live to Be 200 Years Old.

That may sound impressive, but the tropical beauties only make viable cacao beans for just 25 years of their lifespan.

19. There Are Two Kinds of Cacao.

Most modern chocolate comes from forastero beans, which are considered easy to grow—though the crillo bean is believed to make much tastier chocolate.

20. Chocolate Has a Special Melting Point.

Chocolate is the only edible substance to melt around 93° F, just below the human body temperature. That’s why chocolate melts so easily on your tongue.

Magic Beans

Magic Beans

Our first awareness
      falling through time
      through blood-rain, pure white snow, green vegetation 
      down into deep earth
      warm sunshine
      cool wind
      soaking rain

Energy flowing-up through our pod
      each day we grew bigger
      snug together with brothers and sisters
      bursting our little cozy shell
      then one day
      a father and daughter
      plucked us from the vine
      stripped – we lay bare upon a tray
      disorientated and tender but alive  
      a life force deep inside us
      our skin soft but hardening 
      then sleep . . . waiting for the one

Daddy!!  Come see the beans
They changed colors
I see brown ones with white specks
      Yellow with black dots
      Orange with blue stripes 
But wait  . . .  there are three larger beans that seem to glow and vibrate
      one is blood-red
      another . . .  brilliant white
      the last . . .  forest green
What does this mean daddy?
Is it evil?

No my sweet darling
These are special beans
Descended from an ancient garden long ago . . . 
      no longer of this world
It was a place of love and light
No death but a deep communion between mother earth and us
The three beans are:  Peace, Purity, Prosperity 

These beans will feed a starving world 
      Bring healing to the hurting
      Laughter to the downtrodden   
      Hope to the desolate 
      Love to the unloved   
      Life to the dead
These beans hold deep magic

How do they work Daddy?
      a worthy woman is chosen
      who is humble of heart
      strong in spirit
      wise in love 

Who is this lady?
      the magic beans choose
      they only appear to the one female
      you, my darling . . .  you are the one

Me?  I am only a girl
I have none of these things . . . 
      the beans see deep within a soul
      they never lie
      they have chosen you 
      together you will change the world!

Daddy, I am scared . . .
I am shaking 
I am not worthy
      breathe deeply, close your eyes 
      put the beans in your mouth

Daddy, I taste sweetness
Molasses, ginger, caramel . . . now chocolate 
I see visions upon the wind
Blood, wars, rage, yelling . . . unbearable things
      yes, darling the evil is strong here
      let the blood from the red bean flow
      let it mingle with your love
      it will defeat this evil and bring
      healing and forgiveness . . . peace

The white bean is singing with my voice – Daddy!
Sweet is her song
I see merriment, laugher, dancing . . . 
People hugging and holding hands
My tears are falling
Filling rivers with waters of light, love and purity
Joy reverberates from mountains peaks

From my open lips runs rich green sap
Deep does the earth drink
Big drafts of life and love
I see fields flowing with
Cream, honey, and wine
Trees waving to the sun
The earth is rejoicing

I see beans being planted 
In a garden
A man and a little girl
      yes, my Little One, soar now
      fill the world with your love
      fill the wind with your song
      love generously 

Such is the magic of these colored beans

Written by 
David Meade 
Shared from PoetrySoup
Now Indulge yourself. Call or stop by Ashley’s for hand-dipped chocolates, creamy ice cream and delectable candies. Order Online! For yourself or for gifts to people around the US!

7 Chocolate Flavors You Need To Taste

7 Chocolate Flavors You Need To Taste Before You Leave

Chocolate is delicious and as I always say, the weirder the better. Okay, I don’t actually say that, but it’s totally true in this instance.

 
Homemade Fudge is modestly delicious. I enjoy a chocolate who is straight forward with me.

2.Turtle

The flavors of chewy homemade caramel, crisp pecans and heavenly milk chocolate all combined into one piece of candy is just a bite of heaven right here on earth. This is definitely a puzzle for the palate. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

3.  Truffles

 
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Classic and timeless, this chocolate is no Plain Jane. Just like the “little black dress,” its understated style is one of life’s little luxuries that we encourage you to enjoy with abandon. Simple, chic and never out of fashion, this truffle proves that less truly is more.

4. Dipped Chocolates

 
For a little after dinner treat you could have strawberries, or you could have strawberries dipped in chocolate. You could enjoy a macaron, or you could have a macaron dipped in chocolate. Yes, you could have a Nutter Butter, or you could have a Nutter Butter dipped in chocolate. If you’re the type who eats first with your eyes, you’ll love this .
 

 5. Chocolates

Dark chocolate with goat cheese, Pear Williams and crushed black pepper buttercream. This is the fanciest chocolate of all chocolates. It deserves a little bow tie, or maybe a monocle.
Milk or dark chocolate butter almond toffee. This is the fanciest chocolate of all chocolates. It deserves a little bow tie, or maybe a monocle.

 6. Caramel Apples

Salted caramel sauce – simple, delicious. Not as salty as I expected, but in a good way. Perfect for just about anything.

7. Jelly Belly

Jelly Belly jelly beans are familiar to just about everybody in America (and most likely the majority of people on earth). These tiny jelly beans, in their dozens of flavors, have single-handedly turned what was an unexciting gummy candy into a “gourmet” product, and they’ve earned the loyal devotion of millions. Collected official flavors and stirred them up for the ultimate Jelly Belly assortment. Only one flavor is left out: Chili Mango. It’s just a little too hot to be eaten randomly.

Happy Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic Europe, it has been celebrated on March 19 (St. Joseph’s Day) since the Middle Ages. This celebration was brought by the Spanish and Portuguese to Latin America, where March 19 is often still used for it, though many countries in Europe and the Americas have adopted the U.S. date, which is the third Sunday of June. It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the months of March or May. It complements similar celebrations honoring family members, such as Mother’s Day, Siblings Day and Grandparents Day. Father’s Day is a time to recognize fathers and father figures who have influenced a person’s life. It is celebrated through cards, gifts, dining out, gifts such as chocolates, box of candies, electronic gadgets, sports attire, household tools or time spent together.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day: 15 reasons we should make mums feel special

Today is Mother’s Day, and we reckon you should make your mum feel special, because she’s probably the person that loves you the most in the entire world.

It’s a bit unfair that mums only get one day of the year where we really celebrate all the great things that they’ve done for us, and still continue to do. Being a mum is a life long job. Right from the moment you are born, to when you move out and start your own life, your mum never really stops caring about you and wondering if you’re okay. She is the best person in the world for a cuddle, a chat, and a good dose of honesty on why your latest Tinder date isn’t worthy of you.So take this day as an opportunity to make her feel really special.

1. She does EVERYTHING

She definitely must have a time machine because she does everything. From working, to cooking, cleaning and even making sure that she’s up to date on current affairs and a bit of Corrie. There is nothing that this woman cannot do within a 24 hour period.

2. The reason you’re here

Yep, if it weren’t for her carrying you around for 9 months, and then looking after you for your whole life you wouldn’t be here today.

3. Her pearls of wisdom

You learnt important stuff in school but the most useful life lessons all came from your mum. Lessons such as never going to sleep with wet hair, and how to handle bullies. Cheers mum

4. And her protective nature

There is no-one else who would do anything to keep you safe and out of harms way. Like the time she texted your slimy ex and told him to bugger off because you deserve so much better.

5. Always there for you

Whether it is answering questions on what to with your hair, or giving you a hug when you get fired for the first time, mum’s always got your back.

6. Great role model

All of your greatest attributes and skills such as never giving up, knowing self-defence and how to not ruin your life have all come from watching the way your mum has manoeuvred through life. She taught you the importance of power dressing, and for that you will always be grateful.

7. Sassy AF

Everyone else may be fooled by her sweet nature, but you know that she has a sharp tongue.Like the time she made her hairdresser cry when they didn’t give her the right shade of brunette.

8. And really tough

Don’t be fooled by her frame, because this woman has the strength of Rambo. After all she dealt with you during your rebellious teenage phase, when every week you would be discovered drunk on cheap cider, and quite possibly with a new piercing.

9. Judgement free

The whole world may have judged you that time you decided to channel your inner emo and wear nothing but wide flared jeans, a dog chain, your dad’s skinny ties and colour your hair green. But not mum. Sure she may have not liked it, but she understood that it made you happy and that’s all that matters.

10. Super proud

Remember all those rubbish ‘art works’ you made in nursery consisting of ice lolly sticks, pipe cleaners and a lot of glitter? Well your mum has still kept them safe and sound. Even though they’re really crap, she still thinks she has a budding Van Gogh on her hands.

11. Confidence for days

Have you ever seen this woman turn into a shrinking violet? No. Because she is brimming with more confidence that Beyoncé.

12. Always honest

If you look really nice she’ll tell you. If you look like a dogs dinner, she’ll also give you a little pat and tell you. Can’t get fairer than that.

13. Puts up with you

We’re all a bit annoying here and there, but only mums never seem to mind and love us just the same. bey

14. Has your best interests at heart

There is something extraordinary in knowing that there is always one person who will always give you the best possible advice, and want nothing but greatness for you.

15. Always makes you feel special

Have you ever spoken to your mum when you’re feeling down and left not feeling better? No. Because there is something about a mother’s advice and cuddles that will make you feel like you’re the most special person in the entire world. Information shared from METRO NEWS
Buy Chocolate Basket For Your Lovely Mother From Ashley’s Chocolate

What Is the History of Fudge?

The finest fudge from Ashley's Confectionery in Cedarburg Fudge is a type of confectionery which is made by mixing sugar, butter and milk, heating it to the soft-ball stage at 240 °F (116 °C), and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency. Fruits, nuts, caramel, candies, and other flavors are sometimes added either inside or on top. It is often bought as a gift from a gift shop in tourist areas and attractions.  
The origin of fudge is unclear, but the history of fudge can be traced back to at least 1886 CE. The exact origin and the inventor of fudge remain disputed, but some experts believe that the word “fudge” was first applied to a botched batch of caramels, prompting the exclamation, “Oh fudge!” Most food historians believe that fudge, as it exists today, is an American invention.   Fudge is a crystalline confectionery. Unlike many other types of candy, such as taffy and caramels, which forgo crystallization, crystal formation is necessary for the creation of fudge. This process creates a candy that is firm yet smooth as the crystals are so small that they do not taste or feel grainy. The fudge mixture, which must contain sugar, butter, and milk, must be properly prepared and cooled in order to create sugar crystals that are just the right size. If the process is not carried out correctly, the crystals will either form too early and become too large or never form at all, resulting in a candy similar to caramel.   The history of fudge may predate the foundation of the U.S., and experts are quick to point out the similarities between fudge and tablet, a Scottish confection. Tablet is first mentioned in The Household Book of Lady Grisell Baillie, which was written between 1692 and 1733 CE.  
Emelyn Battersby Hartridge documents the first sale of fudge, writing a letter in 1886 stating that a schoolmate’s cousin had sold fudge for 40 cents per pound in Baltimore. In 1888, Ms. Hartridge, still attending Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, wrote that she made as much as 30 pounds of fudge for the Senior auction. Fudge caught on quickly at Vassar and, before long, recipes for the confection began popping up at other women’s colleges. Smith and Wellesley colleges adapted the so-called original recipe into their own versions.
  Vassar’s recipe called for white sugar, cream, unsweetened chocolate, and butter. The Wellesley College creation altered the original recipe only slightly by adding marshmallows, which keeps the fudge from collapsing during cooling. The Smith College recipe was the first to deviate from the original, adding extra butter along with brown and white sugar, molasses, and vanilla. Each of these recipes is notoriously delicate. The history of fudge was forever changed when corn syrup, which delays crystal formation, was first used for foolproof recipes. Information shared from wiseGEEK   Ashley’s Confectionery creates the finest hand-dipped chocolates, creamy homemade fudge and carries the largest variety of licorice, gummies and old-fashioned candies. Ashley’s homemade fudge is soft, creamy, and the prefect amount of sweet. The highest quality ingredients are used to produce the ideal blend in our copper kettle resulting in 10 irresistible flavors that are sure to satisfy anyone’s craving.   homeade fudge from Ashley's Confectionary

How Are Jelly Beans Made?

Do you like beans? You’re probably saying, “That depends upon what kind of beans you’re talking about!” Green beans? Black beans? Pinto beans? Lima beans? There are many kinds of beans out there.

We bet there’s one kind of bean that almost all of you like, though. It’s hard on the outside and soft on the inside. And they’re usually really sweet and tasty. What are we talking about? Jelly beans, of course! Jelly beans are a popular type of candy. They’re shaped like a bean with a solid outer shell and a soft interior. They also come in a rainbow of colors and a wide variety of flavors. Their main ingredient is sugar, but there are other ingredients that give them their unique shape and texture. To make jelly beans, manufacturers heat liquid sugar to about 350 °F. They then mix in starch and glucose. The combined mixture is then poured into starch molds shaped like beans. They let the mixture dry in the molds for a day to give them their unique chewy texture. After they’re removed from the molds, the jelly beans are steamed and coated with more liquid sugar and then placed into a spinning machine. As the jelly beans are spun constantly, artificial colors and flavors are added to give them their final coloring and taste. Toward the end of the process, grains of sugar are added to the spinning machine about four times. It is this granularsugar that gives the jelly beans their hard outer shell. Finally, hot syrup and wax are added to the spinning machine at the very end to give the jelly beans their final polished, glossy look. Once they’re finished, the jelly beans are dried and packaged. Sometimes jelly beans are packaged and sold in individual flavors. Much of the time, though, they are sold in packages of mixed flavors to give jelly bean fans a wide variety of flavors. The history of jelly beans is a bit unclear. Some people believe their chewy insides were inspired by TurkishDelight, a Middle Eastern treat made of jelly and covered in powdered sugar. Jelly beans may have made their first appearance in the United States in 1861, when Boston confectioner William Schrafft encouraged customers to send his jelly beans to soldiers during the Civil War. Historians believe jelly beans first became linked with the Christian holiday of Easter in the 1930s. Some of the most common jelly bean flavors include cherry, orange, lemon, lime, grape, licorice, lemonade and strawberry. Many gourmet flavors are available from specialty manufacturers, too. Examples of gourmet flavors include raspberry, coconut and popcorn. Information shared from wonderopolis   Indulge yourself. Call or stop by Ashley’s for hand-dipped chocolates, creamy ice cream and delectable candies. Order Online! For yourself or for gifts to people around the US!

Twelve interesting facts about chocolate

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Twelve interesting facts about chocolate

Perhaps one of the most popular sweets around the world is chocolate. This versatile and delicious food can be enjoyed as anything from a warm drink to a crunchy bar, or even a dense, flourless cake. But whatever its form, while you are savoring each bite of chocolaty goodness, keep in mind that behind the sweet flavor is a long and dynamic history that has travelled across oceans and transcended cultural boundaries. In fact the tale of the cacao bean is one filled with conquest, experimentation, and technological innovation, all on a global scale. It has been touched and moulded by everyone from sixteenth century sailors to the workers of the industrial revolution. So, as you savor the sweet taste of history, learn about what it took to make your favorite food by reading these fun facts about chocolate:

1. Europeans first came into contact with chocolate in 1519 when conquistadors of the Aztec Empirebrought it back to the Spanish court of King Phillip II. At this time, it was served as a luxurious beverage to only the highest social classes: royalty, military, long-distance traders, and Catholic clergy.

2. Along with chocolate, in the form of the cacao bean, the Spanish conquistadors brought back potatoes and tomatoes from their excursions in the New World.

3. The Spanish were quick to adopt cacao as an exotic alternative to the familiar coffee bean. Chocolate drinks were especially popular during fast days in the Catholic country, when the high levels of fat provided more sustenance than tea or coffee, and did not break the rules of the fast.

Chocolate pieces on aluminum foil. Karolina Grabowska.STAFFGATE, 2015, CC0 via Pexels.

4. During the 1600s, an increased presence of coffeehouses and cafes created an opportunity for the lower classes to indulge in the chocolate drink.

5. It was not until the nineteenth century that the right technology made it possible for chocolate to be made into other products, like bars and sweets. At the turn of the twentieth century, chocolate was accessible and affordable to everyone. However, this increase in production tended to yield a decrease in quality as manufacturers decided to use cheaper ingredients like Forastero cacao beans.

6. Cacao is one of the few crops that has benefitted from a highly mechanized process, without which we would not have smooth melted chocolate. (This comes from a refining technique called “conching,” developed by Mr. Rodolphe Lindt.)

7. The distinction between luxury chocolate and ordinary chocolate that we have today began in the twentieth century when chocolate started being mass produced. Before then, it was always considered a luxury good. In fact, the differences between the two have much more to do with the marketing strategy, packaging, and price than with the quality of the chocolate itself.

Cake pops chocolate. CC0 via Pexels.

8. The continued exchange of chocolate between the New World and Europe led to experimentation and new recipes that were quite different from the original, but better suited to a European taste. Cinnamon and nutmeg, among other more familiar spices, replaced chilli peppers and achiote. When the Europeans introduced cows to the New World, a hot chocolate recipe with milk was soon developed.

9. During the Enlightenment, chocolate drinks became popular in London for their taste, nutritional value, and ability to maintain clear thinking. People could remain productive and focused while drinking chocolate all day long, which is not the case when consuming alcoholic beverages.

10. Countries that grow cacao like Grenada, Ecuador, and Madagascar have recently started producing chocolate within their own borders, completely revolutionizing the traditional process of chocolate production. This is a way to maximize profits for their own cacao farmers, who are historically some of the most impoverished workers worldwide.

11. The term ‘single origin’ chocolate indicates that the cacao beans used to produce that product are not a haphazard combination but were sourced from one particular location. This term is seen as a marker of quality, but can in fact be used to describe anything from beans that were sourced within the same country to beans that came from the same plantation.

12. Today, countries like Thailand, India, and Australia that have no previous experience with the cacao bean are planting trees so that they too might have a stake in the globalized chocolate market.

Featured image credit: Chocolate desserts on sticks, CC0 via Public Domain Pictures.

Why Do We Eat Chocolate Bunnies at Easter?

Why Do We Eat Chocolate Bunnies at Easter?

IMAGE CREDIT: ISTOCK
As far as holidays go, Easter is second only to Halloween in American candy sales—that’s a lot of chocolate bunnies.   Easter—the most spiritually significant holiday of the Christian calendar—has always been heavily associated with symbolic foods, from lambs to egg-rich celebratory breads. Rabbits, however, are not mentioned in the scriptures that recount Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. And chocolate, a New World food, was not even accessible to the masses until the mid-1800s. So how did chocolate bunnies come to dominate the Easter basket scene? It’s a thoroughly modern mash-up of commerce, confectionery, and immigration.  
Ostara, the Germanic pre-Christian fertility goddess, apparently kept a hare as a sidekick. The word for “Easter” (Ostern, in German) is derived from her name, and her namesake festival was held around the month we now call April. Germans came to embrace the fictional character Oschter Haws (or osterhause), a rabbit who delivered eggs to children at Easter. Supposedly, the first recorded mention of osterhause was in the medical notes of a Heidelberg physician in 1684 (he discusses the drawbacks of overeating Easter eggs).   The Easter Bunny Museum in the now-defunct Center for Unusual Museums in Munich showcased examples of 19th century Easter rabbits made of cardboard, wood, or fabric, and some had removable heads to allow for hiding candy inside (these would be the forerunners to chocolate bunnies).   At the same time, the middle classes of the Western word began enjoying the chocolaty fruits of progress. “The Industrial Revolution changed chocolate from a costly drink to a cheap solid food,” write historians Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe in The True History of Chocolate. The craft of making the smooth-textured solid chocolate we’re familiar with today requires many steps, and those were not possible without mechanization; the first eating (as opposed to drinking) chocolates appeared in Europe in the mid-1800s.   As eating chocolate became more accessible, Germany rose as a center of molds. Anton Reiche of Dresden, one of the best-known manufacturers, created all sorts of highly detailed tinplate molds for chocolate, and not just in the form of rabbits.   Our friend the chocolate bunny had yet to cross the Atlantic, though. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America says that “the Pennsylvania Dutch imported the Oschter Haws, or Easter Hare, who delivered colored eggs to good children.” One of the better-known early sightings of chocolate rabbits in America was in 1890, when Pennsylvania shopkeeper Robert L. Strohecker featured a five-foot chocolate rabbit in his drugstore to attract business at Easter. This became a thing: A 1927 photograph captured two young boys flanking a mighty 75-pound chocolate rabbit in front of Florian’s Pharmacy in St. Paul, Minnesota (the owner happened to be the son of German immigrants). And after that long journey, chocolate rabbits of more manageable proportions eventually became an Easter staple. Information shared by http://mentalfloss.com/     Ashley’s offers an excellent selection of chocolates and candies for all holidays and is sure to please even the most discerning recipient. We carry only the highest-quality products to ensure an exceptional holiday experience for all, and our many choices provide something for everyone, no matter the time of year. Visit our current holiday page for our most festive and up-to-date selections, or call us to personalize a treat for your holiday celebration.   We all love a holiday celebrated with candy and sweets, and at Ashley’s, we do Easter like nothing you’ve seen before. We offer all of the Easter candy favorites you’re looking for to fill your baskets with one-of-a-kind goodies.

20 Health Benefits Of Chocolate

20 Health Benefits Of Chocolate

Robert Locke Freelance writer 18boxed_chocolateczbaggedchocolates_colribbns Chocolate is regarded as an indulgent treat because it is mainly associated with weight gain and acne. Americans spend $10 billion annually on chocolaty treats. It is not all bad news as countless studies show dark chocolate has many health benefits. Here are 20 you may not know about and which will help you to indulge in it with less guilt. In moderation of course – I mean, the guilt! 1. It can help your heart to stay healthy Lots of studies reveal that the flavonoids in chocolate can help your veins and arteries to stay supple. Over 7 studies followed 114,000 participants who were given a few servings of dark chocolate a week. The results showed that their risk of getting a heart attack was reduced by about 37% while the chances of getting a stroke were 29% less when they had a higher consumption of chocolate. 2. It may help improve your memory as you get older Research has shown that when elderly people were given specially prepared cocoa extracts which was high in flavanols, their cognitive function greatly improved. The only problem is that when it comes to eating chocolate, the percentage of those cocoa flavanols is much reduced due to the processing and the addition of eggs, sugar and milk. 3. It can help to avoid sunburn One study conducted in London found that women who were given chocolate with a high flavanol content were able to withstand double the amount of UV light on their skins without burning, compared to those on lower doses. 4. It may make you better at math I was never good at math at school. Maybe I should have eaten more dark chocolate! This is the startling conclusion I have reached after reading about the research of Professor David Kennedy who is Director of Brain, Performance and Nutrition at the Research Center of Northumbria University (UK). Participants were given 500 mg of flavanols in a hot cocoa drink. They benefited from increased flow to the brain as a result and were better at coping with difficult math equations. 5. It may put you in a better mood I wish my uncle had given my aunt some chocolate when he told her to stop crying and to ‘cheer up.’ He obviously had not read about the work at the University of Swinburne in Australia. These guys again targeted the cocoa polyphenols and they found that it had a beneficial effect on the mood of the participants who were calmer and happier. 6. It may help lower cholesterol levels The Journal of Nutrition carries an interesting article about the results of a study done to determine whether dark chocolate could have any effect on the LDL cholesterol levels. They found that when subjects were given bars of dark chocolate with plant sterols and flavanols, they were getting lower scores on their cholesterol levels. 7. It may help people with Alzheimer’s disease As we know, the nerve pathways to the brain get damaged when Alzheimer’s disease strikes, causing severe loss in certain mental functions. It is fascinating to read about how one extract from cocoa, called lavado, can actually reduce the damage done to these vital pathways. 8. It can help you with your workout Another magical flavanol in chocolate is epicatechin. Mice were given this substance and they were much fitter and stronger than those mice on water only. Researchers say that to get the best results from your workout you have to limit the amount to only about half of one square of chocolate a day! If you have too much, it could undo the beneficial effects. 9. It is very nutritious Did you know that if choose chocolate with a high cocoa content (75% to 85%) you are getting a very nutritious snack? Take the typical 100 gram chocolate bar. It has almost all of your RDA for copper and manganese. It contains over half your magnesium RDA and about two thirds (67%) of your RDA for iron. It also has about 10% of fiber. There is also lots of zinc, selenium and potassium too. 10. It can help to lower your blood pressure You may not know it but having the right amount of NO (Nitric Oxide) in your body can help your arteries to relax. That will, in turn help to take some of the pressure off them and the result is a lower BP count. Just another benefit of the dark chocolate flavanols which help to produce this vital Nitric Oxide. 11. It helps you produce more endorphins When you are on a high, it may be due to excitement, love or after exercise. This high is due to the release of endorphins which are brain hormones. The great advantage of chocolate is that flavanols can also help in endorphin production without having to run a marathon! Endorphins play a key role in helping to prevent depression and other mental disorders. 12. It may reduce pregnancy complications One of the complications of pregnancy is known as preeclampsia in which blood pressure can shoot up. Researchers have established that one of the chemicals in dark chocolate, theobromine, can stimulate the heart and help the arteries dilate. When pregnant women were given higher doses of chocolate, they had a 40% less chance of developing this complication. 13. It may help with diabetes You probably think that chocolate is too sweet for diabetics and is one of their banned treats, but one small study at the University of L’Aquila in Italy found that the right does of chocolate flavonoids can help the body’s metabolism and enhance insulin function. This could benefit people with diabetes but more studies need to be done. 14. It may help you reduce your food cravings You know the feeling: you cannot function until you have a snack. One of the healthiest is a piece of dark chocolate because it fills you up quicker and reduces craving for salty and sweet snacks, according to a small research study. 15. It may help your cough Another marvelous effect of the theobromine chemical in chocolate is that it can calm a troublesome cough. Manufacturers are looking at this to produce safer cough syrups instead of using codeine which has some undesirable side effects. 16. It may help with blood circulation Normally you take an aspirin to help prevent blood clotting and to improve circulation. Studies now show that chocolate can have a similar effect. 17. It can also help you see better University of Reading researchers were curious to see if dark chocolate flavanols could actually improve vision as they knew it certainly improved blood circulation in general. They decided to do a small experiment and gave two groups of volunteers some white and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate groups were doing better on vision tests afterwards. 18. It may help reduce fatigue If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome you should try adding chocolate to your daily diet. One group of sufferers were given a daily dose of chocolate for two months. They were less tired and the best news of all is that they did not put on any extra weight. 19. It may help to lower your Body Mass Index There has been a lot of emphasis on how chocolate can actually reduce your BMI (Body Mass Index) which is how you measure up as regards your height versus your weight. One study took 1,000 Californians and they found that those who ate chocolate more often during the week had a lower BMI. Overall diet and exercise regimes were not factors which influenced this result. 20. It may help reduce your chances of getting cancer As we have mentioned, the cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These are important in keeping the actions of free radicals at bay. As we know, these are the protagonists when cancer starts to invade cells. ENDORSED BY Chloe Chong Editor at Lifehack, Social Media Expert, Health Nut