Odd fact I learned yesterday: Quakers were one of the early backers of chocolate. On a radio interview, I heard a historian comment that chocolate was seen as a pleasurable indulgence that could be an alternative to alcohol.
A wikipedia article on the history of chocolate provides more perspective: Mayans and Aztecs were already up to their ears in chocolate. Spanish explorers brought back chocolate beans, and eventually they wound up in Holland where the founders of Cadbury starting producing it.
I’ve been meaning to read Raymond Sokolov’s history of food, Why We Eat What we Eat. Actually while linking to the book, I came across this fascinating reader comment:
He (Sokolov) also seems to agree with the notion that North America is still too young to have developed a native food culture of its own, overlooking such all-American delicacies as baked beans, corn muffins, clam chowder, corn chowder, brown bread, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, corn-on-the-cob, root beer, stuffed turkey, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, blackened catfish, blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, etc. To find out what’s native, you need to serve a lot of foreigners, and when they give you a look of surprise and say “Wow, what is that?,” you know you’ve served something American.