A Cultural Encyclopedia
by Ross F. Collins
June 2022, 422pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7607-3
$97, £72, 84€, A132
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7608-0
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

No food in history has become as pervasive a part of world culture as chocolate. Today, the cocoa sector underpins a multinational market worth $130 billion and growing.

Chocolate is nearly always with us—when celebrating or mourning, in love or alone, healthy or sick, happy or sad. This book offers a comprehensive look at how an exotic food grew to play such a central role in our lives.

No food in the world can offer as storied a history as chocolate. Chocolate: A Cultural Encyclopedia focuses on cocoa’s history from ancient Mesoamerican beginnings as a symbol of ritual, life, and death, to its omnipresence in Europe, North America, and the rest of the world. In 10 thematic chapters covering chocolate in society and culture, 80 shorter entries, recipes, and a comprehensive timeline, this new book takes a closer look at how chocolate has served as a medicine, an indulgence, a symbol of decadence, a door to romance, a tempting taboo, a means of survival, and a snack for children and adults alike.

Why did popes and kings so fear their chocolate? Who invented milk chocolate, and why was its formula kept secret? Why did soldiers in World War II despise their chocolate rations? Who makes the most chocolate today? Find out the answers to these questions and more as this book tells you everything you wanted to know—and a lot you didn’t even know existed—about the seed from the world’s favorite fruit tree.


  • Detailed discussions of 80 chocolate-related topics for those who wish to know more
  • A compendium of original recipes that have never been published before
  • In-depth discussion of historical, cultural, and business aspects of chocolate never before available in a single book
  • Extensive in-text references and bibliography
  • Inviting and lively text for a general audience
  • 30 visually striking images that bring life to the essays and entries
Ross F. Collins is professor of communication at North Dakota State University, Fargo. As a cultural historian he has published or edited seven books and about two dozen academic articles and monographs. His published works include ABC-CLIO's World War I: Primary Documents on Events from 1914 to 1919 and World War I and World War II: The European Theater (with Patrick Washburn), part of the Greenwood Library of American War Reporting series. Previously a newspaper reporter, editor, and freelance writer, Collins has also published several hundred mass-media articles and photos. Collins earned his PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK.
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