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The History of Hot Chocolate

The History of Hot Chocolate


Dure Foods is proud of our long relationship with coffee shops and proud of our contribution to that welcome cup of hot chocolate you enjoy when you visit your local coffee shops.  We did some research on the history of hot chocolate; it’s a comfort drink with an interesting background!

Chocolate started out as a beverage long before chocolate was eaten as a bar.   Chocolate as a bar was only invented in 1847.  Chocolate as a drink dates back to 1500 BC in Central America where the local Olmecs tribes domesticated “cacao”.   The fruit of the cacao tree tastes like passion fruit and used to be eaten as a fruit by these tribes who discarded the seeds, as happens with many fruits.  But the seeds were discovered to have ‘magical properties’ when roasted and ground into cocoa powder.  A new drink was born.

In early Mayan tombs, pottery vessels have been found to contain the residue of drinks made with cacao.  The Mayans trade the cacao beans to the Aztecs who drank chocolate as an aphrodisiac and for medicinal purposes.  It was frequently used as a ceremonial drink, and usually drank at room temperature.  When chocolate as a drink was introduced to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain during the time of the Conquistadors, sugar, cinnamon and even black pepper were added to reflect the tastes of royalty.

Chocolate became the drink of royals, aristocrats and the wealthy; the beans so valuable, they were once used as a currency.  As chocolate as a drink moved across Europe, it took centuries before it made its way from a royal drink to a drink enjoyed by everyone.  During the mid 1500’s in Europe, the by-now popular chocolate drink caused a major “stir” in the Catholic Church as clerics tried to decide if it was a food or a drink – with the concern being that drinks were approved for consumption during fasting periods, whereas food was not.   Tomas Hurtado in 1645, a well-known theologian, solved the problem by ruling that it was a drink if made with water and a food if made with milk.

By 1712, ‘drinking chocolate’ had made the move across the Atlantic to Boston where the apothecaries of the day (yesterday’s pharmacists), advertised the chocolate beverage for its curative powers and sold it through their stores.

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