Exploring the History of Chocolate

When analyzing the historical record of the New World, there are plenty of agricultural highlights to consider. But, the next time you open a Hershey’s with almonds or sip a cup of cocoa, haven’t you ever thought of where the tasty treat of chocolate came from? How old is this sweet food when it comes to exploring its existence throughout history?


The Nahuatl language reveals the beginning of chocolate, which was rather bitter in taste. The Aztecs used terminology, such as xocoatl and cacahuatl, which meant “bitter water.” The related word of cacao
  (cocoa in English) made reference to the bean in which chocolate is made from. The word is also used to denote the hot drink that comes from the chocolate powder. In the botanical scheme of things, “Theobroma cacao” translates into “food of the Gods.” We may have all had a heavenly experience with chocolate at some point in time.


In 1519, the Aztec emperor Moctezuma met with Cortez and presented their first taste of chocolate. Until then, Europeans were not aware of this delicious ingredient. In Tenochtitlán, which is now called Mexico City, Cortes and the rest of his army delighted in a chocolatl drink. The version of hot chocolate in the past consisted of the cacao bean was ground into a pasty consistency, where spices, vanilla, and a little bit of honey was then added. The effort produced a drink that was poured into a unique goblet that possessed enough height to create a foamy appearance. Even the sweetness of chocolate wasn’t known at this time, the bitter taste was still a treat.


When chocolatl was first discovered, it was made into a drink that was primarily set aside for royalty. This occurred during the Postclassic era throughout the Aztecs, Mixtecs, and other neighboring cultures. Only individuals with high regard could enjoy the drink. In this category, travelers from a long distance and warrior were allowed to taste the drink. When Cortez first enjoyed the drink, it was served in tall cups that were fashioned from pure gold.


Cacao beans soon became a valued commodity for the Aztecs, who used this ingredient as one of their main forms of currency. It was also used as a “tribute payment” that went to the Aztec empire. In the Aztec market, chocolate was found, which was almost always prepared by a woman. Chocolate was so important that it had their own regulations regarding weights, measures, as well as prices that were set by the government. As time passed, chocolate drinks started to include a wide-range of ingredients, including chili water and flowers.


When the cacao beans were grown, they actually didn’t come from the highlands of Central Mexico. The beans needed a tropical climate to grow, which was not connected to the central part of Mexico. Instead, the beans were brought in from the province of Xoconochco (Soconusco), which was a Pacific coastal province that was rich in cacao. Throughout history, chocolate became known as a worthy commodity, which over time survived. Ever wondered where the idea of mixing chocolate with milk came from? The 18th century brought this concept, which was credited to the personal physician of Queen Anne.