Chocolate production in the Netherlands began in earnest in the 1820's, after Dutchman Coenraad J. van Houten invented the cocoa press, which made it possible to seperate cocoa fats from the cocoa mass, creating cocoa. This cocoa was combined with sugar to produce drinking cocoa, and by adding some cocoa butter back, chocolate bars and other chocolate products as we know them today were invented. Van Houten also created a method to neutralize the acids in cocoa, which improved its taste and color and he added alkalines so that the cocoa would mix better with water.
Before these innovations, chocolate was a heavy, fatty, bitter drink, favored by the rich for its perceived medicinal benefits. Van Houten started the first Dutch chocolate factory, opening the way for the mass production of cocoa, chocolate bars, bon bons, chocolate letters and Easter eggs. The Dutch method, called 'Dutching', was copied all over the world. Soon chocolate was not only much more enjoyable, but it was enjoyed by people of all social classes.
Typical Dutch chocolate products: