French chocolate is one of the most popular types of confection in the world. It is used in many tasty treats such as chocolate mousse and the ever popular chocolate eclair. Chocolate truffles have long been favored for their rich taste and texture and chocolate covered pralines were also made popular by the French. Chocolate was not just considered a confection in France. It was also used for medicinal purposes and reported to be beneficial with health problems.
You may be interested to know that the French had a hand in making chocolate famous in areas besides France. During the mid 1800s, a Frenchman named Etienne Guittard was hoping to make his fortune in the California gold rush. He headed to the Barbary Coast where instead of mining for gold to make his living, he ended up growing rich by selling chocolate. In 1686, he opened the Guittard Chocolate factory where it is still family owned and operated to this day.
The first London chocolate store, then called a chocolate house, was established by a Frenchman in 1657. The name of the store was the Coffee Mill and Tobacco roll. The chocolate that was sold there was so expensive that only wealthy patrons could afford to purchase it.
There are other very famous, French chocolate makers that still have shops and factories that have continued to be popular long after they were established.
In 1945, Maurice Bernachon opened the Bernachon Chocolate Factory in Lyons, France when he was only 26. He was trained in the art of chocolate making by his parents at the young age of 14. Today, 60 years later, the Bernachon factory is still famous for its delicious chocolate.
In 1660, a Frenchman named Debauve was dubbed the first "Royal Chocolate Maker", by King Louis the 14th of France after he had received a wedding gift of chocolate from his wife Marie Therese. In 1800, approximately a century and later, one of his descendents named Sulpice Debauve established a chocolate shop in Paris.
His chocolate was so revered that he was able to open additional shops and had established 60 of them by 1804. He had a nephew named Antoine Gallais, who partnered up with him in 1823 and the name of his shops changed to Debauve and Gaillais. Continuing in the tradition of his ancestor, Kings Louis XVIII and Charles X appointed them the Official Chocolatiers of the French Court. Although Sulpice Debauve died in 1836, his legacy still continues with the company he founded in 1804.
French chocolate has had a strong impact on history. Many of the delicious chocolates that you enjoy today are due to the innovations of the French who took the simple cocoa bean and turned it into an entire industry.