The Torrid History of Chocolate

Carole Pagan

Visitors: 146

Imagine if someone set a mug in front of you that held something that looked like mud, dark brown and thick and oily. Being polite, you take a sip. It’s bitter - and spicy from the chili peppers they put in to try to make it taste better. You’d wonder why this drink was served with such ceremony- Why is it so precious?

This was the early history of chocolate. And if you drank the cup, you would find that you felt better, your mood would almost instantly lift, and you’d probably feel like having sex.

But that taste…

Then the Aztecs got a hold of it. They added vanilla bean and honey instead of the chili peppers. It was considered so precious that only royalty was allowed to drink it. Aztec legend says that a god was kicked out of the heavens for allowing mere mortals to have this precious drink.

Montezuma’s court drank over 2000 cups a day. Montezuma himself was said to drink 50 cups a day himself, and always drank a cup before visiting his harem.

Then the Spanish got a hold of it. The effects of this not so great tasting drink were so astounding, they felt that they had to keep it to themselves – and they did – for 100 years.

But then, Chocoholic Queen Anne of Austria (formerly Princess Anne of Spain), married Louis XIII of France. Up to this point, chocolate was so hard to produce, and such high demand, that only royalty could possible afford it. Slaves were used to increase production from the plantations, and as you can imagine, it was not a great working environment. Working to supply addicts can be pretty tough. Addicts get pretty testy if their drug supply is in danger. But the chocolate addiction was about to get more civilized.

Chocolate gradually spread through Italy, England, Switzerland, and Holland. Each country worked diligently to make this magic elixir taste better. The Dutch invented the process which makes the chocolate less bitter. The Swiss made the chocolate creamier and lighter. The Swiss and the U. S. found ways to mass produce it so we can all enjoy it. Whew. Finally! It only took about 1500 years.

Here’s a few more chocolate facts - Casanova drank chocolate to improve his love-making. M & Ms were invented so that soldiers could carry chocolate with them. It was issued as nutrition. Toll-House Cookies were invented by accident. The owner of the Toll-House Inn was making a dessert when she found that she had run out of Baker’s chocolate. All she had was a Nestle chocolate bar. She broke it into little pieces and mixed it into her dough. But to her dismay, the chocolate didn’t melt completely. Fortunately, everyone loved the new cookies. Nestle gave her a lifetime supply of chocolate for exclusive rights to the recipe. I wonder what that was worth?

Though the chocolate today hardly resembles the chocolate of early times, they are finding that it is still good for your heart and your mood. What a sweet addiction!

Carole thinks everyone should have chocolate everyday. It's good for your heart, and your soul! To satisfy your every chocolate whim – grab a copy of For the Love of Chocolate - 570 chocolate recipes.


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