While enjoying a decadent piece of chocolate, have you ever wondered where chocolate came from? Allow Delysia Chocolatier provide some insight with a new blog series: The History of Chocolate.
The answer to When Did Chocolate First Appear? may be surprising. Chocolate has been around for thousands of years.
Archaeologists have discovered evidence of chocolate beverages on the Pacific coast of Mexico dating back to the Mokaya civilization in 1900 BC, which predates the Mayans by hundreds of years. But it was the Mayans in the 6th century AD who are generally credited with being the first to harvest the pods from the Theobroma Cacao (translation: food of the Gods).
Cacao pods were a symbol for fertility and used in many rituals – births, marriages and deaths – as well as a currency for barter and trade.
In both the Mayan and Aztec cultures, circa 600-1200 AD, cocoa was the basis for a thick, cold, unsweetened drink called xocoatl believed to be a health elixir. The Aztecs added different spices like chile peppers and cornmeal to add flavor to the bitter drink.
The Aztecs also revered the cacao bean for its healing properties. They were known to provide gourds filled with xocatl to sacrifice-victims too sad to participate in their ceremonial rituals. Even thousands of years ago, chocolate was used to cheer people up!
It wasn’t until the Spanish explorers came to the Americas when chocolate was introduced to the rest of the world. Christopher Columbus brought cacao pods back to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1502. But it was Hernan Cortes in 1528 who first suggested blending the bitter drink with sugar. Soon other spices were added such as nutmeg, clove, and vanilla. This chocolate drink from the New World became a symbol of nobility and the beverage of choice for all of Spain’s aristocratic class.
In our next part of the History of Chocolate series, we’ll explore chocolate in Europe and how it evolved to the delicious treat we enjoy today.