Did you know that people have been enjoying hot chocolate for approximately 2,000 years?
When Spanish explorers discovered the Americas in the 1500s, they met the chocolate-drinking Aztecs and Mayans in what is now Mexico. For centuries, these early civilizations had been making hot chocolate by grinding cacao beans into a paste and stirring it into water and spicing it with chilis. It wasn’t sweet because they didn’t have sugar yet. The Aztecs believed their chocolate drink, which they called cacahuatl (ka-ka-wat-l), made a person stronger and wiser. The Aztec emperor Montezuma II sometimes drank 40 cups a day!
The Spaniards brought hot chocolate back to Europe and changed the recipe a little. They added sugar and flavored it with various ingredients such as vanilla, cinnamon, honey, rosewater, and jasmine. By the mid-1700s, hot chocolate was as popular as coffee is now. Instead of coffee shops on every corner, there were chocolate shops on every corner.
In 1828, Dutch chemist Coenraad Van Houten invented a press to squeeze the fat out of the cacao beans. Van Houten called his powder “cocoa.” Without the fat in it, the cocoa easily mixed with water, making life better for the hot chocolate baristas of the time. This development also made it possible for the creation of edible chocolate bars. One of the first chocolate bars was made by Fry & Sons in England in 1847.
Even after edible chocolate became available, people still enjoyed a steaming cup of delightful, deliciousness. Let’s celebrate this ancient beverage today. Mugs up!
Learn more about the history of chocolate in There’s No Ham in Hamburgers: Facts and Folklore About Our Favorite Foods.