Bitter-Sweet History

Cocoa-beansWhat comes to mind when you think of hot chocolate? Relaxation? Luxury? Deliciousness? What if I told you the word chocolate actually comes from the Aztec word for a drink: xocolatl, from xocoli (bitter) and atl (water)?


“The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink [cocoa] permits a man to walk for a whole day without food.” Montezuma II (1502-1520)

The cocao tree originates from the Gulf of Mexico, where conditions allowed for plantations as far back as 1500 BC. I have to thank the Mayans for my business Cocoa Antics, because they were the ones that discovered a drink could be made by mixing the ground cocao beans with water. This incredibly bitter drink was called cacahuatl.

In Mesoamerica xocalatl was highly valued, reserved for nobility, priests and high officials, but banned from women (thank goodness times have changed!)

However, 16th century Spaniards disagreed strongly with the Mesoamericans. One  missionary, Jose De Acosta, once claimed that it was so ‘loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant taste’ .

Since then, chocolatiers have been working tirelessly to create the chocolate we know and love today. My efforts to to create a hot chocolate void of bitterness gained the Great Taste awards seal of approval. I can now safely say that Señor De Acosta would love my chocolate spoons!



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