Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
For the band, please see Hot Chocolate (band)
The first users of cacao were most likely the Olmecs, a Native American people of Central America, and the oldest civilization of The Americas (1500-400 BC). Later, the Maya civilization consumed cacao-based drinks made with beans from their plantations in the Chontalpa region of present-day Tabasco, Mexico. They created a drink which in Nahuatl was called "xocolatl" (xococ, bitter + atl, water), the "x" being an archaic Spanish phoneme with a similar pronunciation as the modern English "sh". This drink was made from roasted cocoa beans, water, and a little spice. Cocoa beans were also used as a currency.
Following the European "discovery" of the Americas, Christopher Columbus returned from the New World with cocoa beans, but the Europeans favored other, more practical trade goods. However, in 1517 Hernán Cortés landed on the Mexican coast near Veracruz. He made his way to Tenochtitlán to see the famed riches of Emperor Montezuma and the Aztec empire.
Moctezuma introduced Hernán Cortés to his favourite drink, "chocolatl", which he served in a golden goblet . "The chocolatl was a potation of chocolate flavored with vanilla and spices, and so prepared as to be reduced to a froth of the consistency of honey, which gradually dissolved in the mouth and was taken cold."1 Montezuma consumed his "chocolatl" in goblets before entering his harem, leading to the belief that it was an aphrodisiac.
Cortés returned to Spain in 1528 with galleons loaded with cocoa beans and chocolate drink making equipment. The court of King Charles V soon adopted it, and "chocolate" became a fashionable drink popular with the Spanish upper class. Additionally, cocoa was given as a dowry when members of the Spanish Royal Family married other European aristocrats. It took nearly a century for chocolate to achieve popularity throughout Europe, as the Spanish kept the delicacy secret.
After being introduced in England, milk was added to the after dinner treat. By the 18th Century, so-called "Chocolate Houses " were as popular as coffee houses. The first "Chocolate House" opened in London in 1657. Because it was so expensive, hot chocolate was considered a drink for the elite.
"Hot chocolate" is a retronym and the drink was originally simply called "chocolate". The subsequent popularity of "bar chocolate" forced the invention of the term "hot chocolate" to distinguish it from "chocolate" which now means "bar chocolate".
By 1828, the first cocoa powder producing machine had been developed in The Netherlands, which generated a less acidic, more processed cocoa, now known as dutch-process cocoa. The new form of cocoa was easier to blend with warm milk or water.
A modern American concept is the addition of marshmallows to hot chocolate. Some packaged hot chocolate mixes come with small dry marshmallows.
Place in modern society
Today hot chocolate is consumed throughout the world. It is especially popular in New England during the winter, where it is made to accompany large snowstorms. Hot chocolate is also popular throughout Europe.
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