The history of chocolate

History of Chocolate

Cocoa – Mayan gold

Did you know that the history of chocolate has its roots in the history of the Mayan people ? 600 years BC, the Mayan Indians discovered that once roasted, cocoa beans release an intense and captivating aroma, which they called the cocoa tree in reference to the god Quetzalcoatl.

The cocoa grown by the Mayans was central to their civilisation. They used it as a currency and a unit of calculation. They also used it to make a beverage that was drank during ceremonies and rites. They called the drink “xocolatl” which later would become “chocolate”.

The history of chocolate continues at the Spanish Court

The history of chocolate took a new turn in the 15th century. When Christopher COLUMBUS landed in the Americas, the natives offered him cocoa beans. But the famous explorer was not interested in them ! He had come in search of spices and gold to enrich Spain. What would he do with these unknown, bitter-tasting seeds ?

A few years later, following his meeting with the Aztec emperor MOCTEZUMA II, another conqueror became interested in the beverage drank by Mayan and Aztec warriors. Even if he also considers it very bitter, Hernan CORTEZ realizes that the therapeutic and energizing virtues of cocoa can be very useful for his soldiers! He therefore sent the first shipment of beans to the Spanish emperor Charles QUINT.

Finding the drink too strong, the Spanish added cane sugar and vanilla. Chocolate then goes from being a therapeutic drink to being an intense pleasure!

The expansion of chocolate

For almost a century, the recipe for hot chocolate was secretly guarded by the Spanish court. It was not until 1615 that Anne of Austria, wife of the French king Louis XIII, exported the sweet drink to Versailles. Although chocolate was not well received at first, it was to become a real success a few years later at the court of the Sun King.
From then on, chocolate spread throughout Europe. But the delicious drink from the New World remained a luxury product that only a few privileged people could enjoy.

Everything changed at the beginning of the 19th century. With the birth of the industry, the first chocolate factories flourished in Europe. Now, the whole world can finally access this delicacy from the other side of the world.

Since then, every year chocolate continues to win the hearts of millions of people, young and old !