Chocolate is probably the most venerated sweet in the world. It’s origin is located in Central and South America. Based on an Aztec legend Quetzalcoatl, the god of the moon, stole a cocoa tree from the earth to give his human friends a taste of a deliciousness from the gods.

Cocoa tree

Back in the days the indigenous people of this region would make a fermented dark juice with the cocoa seeds, which was called tchocolath (tchocol means bitter, ath means water). The juice was taken to Europe by Fernando Cortez, the Spaniard responsible for colonizing Mexico. He became fascinated with this extraordinary juice that the natives would drink and offer the gods, for its extraordinary properties. “A cup of this drink allows men to walk an entire day without needing other food”, Cortez wrote to emperor Carlo V.

Maya drawing, offering to the gods

The legends and the information about the properties of this amazing seed began to spread to a point where it influenced the Swedish botanical Carlos Linnaeus, which classified the plant as Theobroma Cacao, from Greek theo (gods) and broma (nourishment).

This fruit became so important that it was used as currency. With 10 seeds one could buy a rabbit, and with 100 seeds a slave. The first chocolate factories were opened in Spain and France at the end of the 16th century. In 1746, Antonio Dias Ribeiro a farmer from the south of Bahia planted some seeds, and thanks to the perfect climate the plants prospered. This region became famous and also inspired the literature of the famous writer Jorge Amado. At the time chocolate was made simply with cocoa and sugar. In 1870 the swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter decided to add milk to the recipe, creating milk chocolate.  In 1891 due to the great production the brothers Neugebauer and their partner Gerhardt, from Germany, established the first chocolate factory in Porto Alegre.

Today Brazil is the only country in the world to plant and process cocoa seeds, to produce chocolate, and to have an internal consumption. There are many places with great chocolate factories to be visited throughout the country. My favourite one is Gramado.


This small but charming town in the south region of the country, Porto Alegre, was founded by Italians and Germans in 1800. The European architecture, the flowers on the windows and balconies, the clean and pristine streets makes Gramado known as Brazilian Switzerland.

Gramado, city centre

The climate is definitely cooler than the rest of the country, summers vary from 28 to 15 celsius, and winters from 16 to 5 celsius. This makes the consumption of chocolate a must!!! Gramado is one of the most important producers of crafted chocolate, known as the famous “Gramado Chocolate”. To attract tourists the city invests increasing amounts in stores that offer chocolate candies, truffles, and tablets. The Caracol factory shows with special lights and sound effects in “The Chocolate Kingdom”, the history of chocolate since Azteca times through Europe and Brazil. Other factories in town also have attractions. The major selling shops are Prawer,Planalto, Lugano and Floribal, they all organise free guided tours of their production lines.

The Chocolate Kingdom

Tourists are also attracted all year round to Gramado for it’s nature’s beauty like hills, valleys, crystal clear creeks, and pine forests.