Ever wonder who invented chocolate or where it comes from? Chocolate was originally from Mexico, and its history began in Ancient Mesoamerica back, 4,000 years ago. There is where the first cacao plants were discovered. The Olmec, one of the first civilizations in Latin America, was the first to turn cacao into chocolate. But chocolate wasn’t a bar or luscious truffles. Throughout history, chocolate was a bitter beverage, not a sweet treat. The Olmecs typically drank their chocolate during rituals and used it as medicine. Later the Olmecs passed down their cacao knowledge to the central American Mayans, who not only consumed chocolate but also revered it.
The Mayans praised chocolate as the drink of Gods. The belief was that the cacao bean was magical and was suitable for rituals of birth, marriage, and death. Despite chocolate’s importance in their culture, it was available to everyone, not just the wealthy and powerful. In many Mayan households, chocolate was in every meal. Mayan chocolate was made by roasting and grounding cacao seeds mixed with chiles, water, and cornmeal. To make the mixture, a thick and foamy beverage, they mixed it from one pot to another. They called this beverage xocolat, which means ‘’bitter water”.
The Aztecs also admired chocolate to a whole different level. They believed that cacao was given to them by their Gods. Like the Mayans, the Aztecs liked their caffeinated hot or cold, spiced chocolate beverages in ornate containers. They also used cacao beans as currency to buy food and other items. Cacao beans were considered more valuable than gold in Aztec culture. Aztec chocolate was mostly an upper-class extravagance, although the lower classes enjoyed it at weddings or events. Montezuma ll, the Aztec ruler, was probably the most notorious Aztec chocolate lover. Supposedly he drank gallons of chocolate each day to gain energy as an aphrodisiac.
Chocolate was a fashionable drink by the 17th century, believed to have nutritious, medicinal, and even aphrodisiac properties. In 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate by removing half the natural fat from the chocolate liquor. His creation was known as “Dutch cocoa” and soon led to the creation of solid chocolate. Joseph Fry was the first person to create the modern chocolate bar. In 1847, he discovered that he could make a moldable chocolate paste by adding melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa.
Chocolate, which comes in many beloved forms like bars, drinks, or mixed in desserts, has a history as rich as its creamy flavor.