The fascinating history behind hot chocolate

Ready to hear the fascinating history behind hot chocolate?

As early as 500 BC, the Mayans were drinking chocolate made from ground-up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, and chili peppers (as well as other ingredients)—a much different version from the hot chocolate we know today. They would mix the drink by pouring it back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed, and then enjoy the beverage cold. Although the chocolate drink was available to all classes of people, the wealthy would drink it from large vessels with spouts, which later would be buried along with them.

In the early 1500s, the explorer Cortez brought cocoa beans and the chocolate drink-making tools to Europe. Although the drink still remained cold and bitter-tasting, it gained popularity and was adopted by the court of King Charles V as well as the Spanish upper class. After its introduction in Spain, the drink began to be served hot, sweetened, and without the chili peppers. The Spanish were very protective of their wonderful new beverage, and it was over a hundred years before news of it began to spread across Europe.

When it hit London in the 1700s, chocolate houses (similar to today’s coffee shops) became popular and very trendy, even though chocolate was very expensive. In the late 1700s, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, Hans Sloane, brought from Jamaica a recipe for mixing chocolate with milk, which made the drink more palatable in his opinion. Well, others agreed and the English started adding milk to their chocolate; it was then enjoyed as an after-dinner beverage.

Up until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used as a treatment for stomach and liver diseases as well as a special drink. Today, however, we simply treat this warm concoction as a beverage to sip and savor.

Now let us know: how do you like to drink your hot chocolate?

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