If there are conquerors in the world, chocolate stands out! It presents itself in various ways and flavours, sweetening life’s moments and melting in front of those who can’t resist its charm. Some studies suggest it can be addictive, and we have no doubt, as its taste almost compels us to savour one more piece, and another, and yet another. To ease any guilt, know that moderate chocolate consumption also brings health benefits. It uplifts the mood, benefits the heart, contains antioxidants that fight ageing, and even aids in improving memory and reasoning.

If memory serves us right, chocolate has been a part of our lives for many years. There was a time when cocoa seeds were used as a means of exchange and another time when these same seeds arrived in Europe. They added sugar to make this South American delicacy less bitter and more enjoyable for everyone’s palate. This was the beginning of chocolate in Europe, brought by seafarers and savoured only by illustrious personalities. The industrial revolution democratised chocolate and made it accessible to everyone.

In Portugal, the chocolate story starts with the opening of the first factory in 1914 in Viana do Castelo – the Avianense. Today, it’s open in Durrães, Barcelos, after Luciano da Costa bought the factory. He turned around a seemingly finished brand, capitalizing on good ideas and keeping the scent of chocolate alive in northern Portugal.

Those acquainted with the Christmas traditions in Portugal know that the tree isn’t complete without the chocolate umbrella wrapped in decorative paper. Also, one mustn’t forget the “Caixa de Furos,” found in all grocery stores. The “Imperador” bonbon is undoubtedly the symbol of the Avianense brand, an icon that has withstood time, boasting a memorable flavour combining the finest chocolate with toasted almonds.

Luciano revived the brand by appealing to the collective memory of a nation. He perpetuated the essence of chocolate in the air and its history in Portugal. Like Avianense, other factories contributed to sweetening Portugal, such as the Regina factory, founded in 1924 in Lisbon.

If there’s a place to discover products from these leading brands, it’s Mar d’Estórias. Visit the shop from Monday to Saturday and make your Christmas even sweeter this year!