What comes to your mind when someone says chocolate? The most common responses to this question are – something edible and sweet, a treat, and color. Chocolate is not just a food, it is also referred to as a color – a chocolate colored shirt, chocolate colored chair, etc. And there are many chocolate colors, not just one.
Chocolate in history
Chocolate has been consumed for thousands of years in the Central American region and in Mexico. However, the name ‘chocolate’ might be new. The reference of chocolate in the pre-Columbian writing is related to substance, but not color.
By the 16th century, chocolate was known to be a popular drink from Guatemala. European colonists had chocolate drinks as early as the 16th century. However, chocolate did not become a part of the vocabulary in other countries such as Spain, France, Britain when these regions/countries started consuming chocolate.
When did chocolate become chocolate color?
It isn’t quite clear when chocolate color started getting used as an indication for color. Chocolates can be of many colors – brown, dark brown, light brown, pink color chocolate, among others.
The earliest references of chocolate as color seem to be in the early 18th century. This was much after Europeans started consuming chocolate. Their association of the word chocolate with color suggests that chocolate was being used/ consumed quite popularly.
References of chocolate as color
From the early 18th century, there are many instances of chocolate being used as color. Some of them are in William Salmon’s Palladio Londinensis, where chocolate was used to describe the paint of a house. But, there are many citations of brown color, for example, in clothing, textile, color guides, etc. The question then is, which of those browns was considered chocolate color?
In some instances, the color of chocolate was also mentioned as red. While the color brown was indicated as the color of clove, and broccoli, among other foods. It is safe to deduce that the idea of chocolate color was different for different people and was related to their personal experiences.
What is the real color of chocolate?
While chocolate brown is considered as the standard color of chocolate, it is difficult to point at one hue of chocolate, of the many, as chocolate color. Chocolates can be white, light brown, beige, pink color chocolate, etc. There isn’t one chocolate color that one can pinpoint as chocolate color. So, it’s best to keep the association of chocolate color flexible. The color could mean different things in different cultures, to different people, based on different uses.
Chocolate has been consumed by different regions for hundreds of years. Each region or country might have a different visual perception of chocolate and association of what is chocolate color. While we may not be able to point at one shade of chocolate as chocolate color, it is interesting to know the different perceptions and nuances of chocolate. It is safe to say that chocolate color means different things to different people.