History of Chocolate


Chocolate has been used as a drink for most of its history.The earliest recoreded use dates back to the time of the Olmecs. They orginally used the white pulp around the cocao seeds as fermentable sugar in alcohol drink. The Mayans used the seeds to make a bitter drink. It was used in ceremonial purposes and in everday life. According to chocolate residue that was found in a pot, the Mayans began drinking chocolate around 400 AD. When the Aztecs conquered most of Mexico, they adopted the cocao into their culture.

The Aztecs associated chocolate with their goddess of fertility, Xochiquetzal and often used chocolate in their sacred offerings. They drank it the same way as the Mayans, but usually seasoned it with vanilla and chille peper Chocolate was a very important luxary for the Aztecs and was even used as a currency. For example a fresh avacado was worth 3 beans. When the Aztecs finally met Cortez, the Europeans had their first taste of chocolate.

The first contact the Europeans had with chocolate was when Hernan Cortes met Montezuma. The Europeans drank chocolate in a different manner than the Aztecs and Mayan civilizations. They added cane sugar to fight the bitterness and removed the chilli pepper and retained the vanilla. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, the Spanish armies began enslaving Mesoamericans to produce cacao so they could keep up with the high demand of the drink. Even though, cacao harvesting became a regular business, in most of the world only the rich could afford the delicious drink. Soon cacao beans were being grown in plantations. However England was a different story, anyone with the money could buy it. The first chocolate shop was open in London in 1657. In 1689, the physician Hans Sloane developed a milk chocolate drink in Jamaica.

During the Industrial Revolution a Dutch family mass produced chocolate bars. Around the end of the 18th century, the first solid chocolate was invented. This chocolate was sold in large quantities from 1826 in Italy. The Dutch also created a process that removed the bitter taste. All this contributed to the creation of the modern chocolate bar and chocolate as we know it.

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