Chocolate was first enjoyed by the Aztecs, who used the cocoa beans in a hot, frothy beverage with stimulative and restorative properties.1,2 In those days, chocolate was reserved for warriors, priests, and the nobility. Taken fermented as a drink, it was used in Aztec religious ceremonies, as a sort of holy hot chocolate. In fact, Aztec taxation was levied in cocoa beans. For 100 cocoa beans, you could buy yourself a slave, while 12 cocoa beans could get you a night with one of the Aztec’s courtesans.
After Columbus arrived in America in 1492, he returned to Spain carrying cocoa seeds. But it wasn’t until1528 that the Spanish began to appreciate the true value of cocoa when they started mixing itwith sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and clove.3 The expensive chocolate drink was a big success among Spain’saffluent upper class and it quickly spread across Europe, becoming a favorite indulgence of the ruling classes.
In 1830, the British chocolate maker J.S. Fry and Sons produced the first solid chocolate bar4 . Milk chocolate was invented by the famous chocolate makers Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé in 1875.
Today, chocolate is everywhere. From Valentine's Day hearts and trick-or-treaters on Halloween to Easter bunnies and good old-fashioned chocolate bars, the humble snack derived from cocoabeans has become a staple in our culture.