When was the Chocolate discovered? Know the History Here
Nowadays, chocolate has become an essential food in French gastronomy. A favorite ingredient in the composition of our desserts, chocolate is appreciated all over the world. However, where does chocolate come from and especially when was chocolate discovered?
How was chocolate discovered?
Numerous proofs have been found by scientists around the world certifying that chocolate has been used for millennia. Many people have adopted cocoa in their culture. The word chocolate comes from the Aztec word “tchocolatl” which comes from the word Maya “chocoé” meaning “noise,” and “alt” meaning “water.” They alluded to the sound of the whip used to froth the cocoa. As for the “cocoa tree,” it comes from the word “amygdala pecunaria” which means “monetary almond” because it was a means of exchange.
A legendary story
Many legends are created around chocolate discovered. In some books, chocolate was discovered by the gods. In a legend, the head of the hero Hun Hunaphu was decapitated, and he was hanged on a tree that miraculously gave cocoa fruit. More seriously, cocoa is a tree that has been cultivated for millennia. In 2007, archaeologists chemically proved that the cocoa bean was used by the Mesoamerican peoples of present-day Mexico: Olmec, Maya, and Aztec.
The Olmecs, the first consumers of chocolate in history
Around 2000 BC, it was the Olmecs who were the first to drink cocoa and prepare it. They crushed the cocoa beans and mixed them with water by adding spices, chili or herbs. The existence of chocolate at that time was proven by the presence of chocolate in vases from the Veracruz region and in Mokayas vases in the Soconusco region of Mexico.
The consumption of chocolate by the Mayans
Cocoa cultivation was exported during the Mayan era in 600 BC. These people cultivated cocoa trees to extract cocoa beans from the tree and make a hot, bitter and frothy drink by adding vanilla or Chilli pepper. Chocolate was a coveted food of its value, the Maya were often attacked and had to move at night for their business. Chocolate served as a tax or currency. These people worshiped many gods and therefore offered many offerings: they sometimes mixed their own blood with cocoa. Chocolate was also used a lot for medicine. This food is used to fight against fatigue, diarrhea, heart failure or fever. Scientists have found a Mayan tomb in Guatemala, with the symbol of cocoa engraved on it, but also residues of this hot drink. This proves the existence of chocolate consumption during the Mayan era.
The Aztecs: big consumers of chocolates
The people of Aztec, a major consumer of chocolate, dates back to the 14th century AD. They were also cacao growers and mostly used cocoa for their offerings. Like the Mayans, they mixed their blood with cocoa. Chocolate also accompanied the deceased to their funeral. The chocolate helped the people to travel to the afterlife. When the Spaniards arrived in America with their boats, the Aztecs would have even thought it was their God Quetzalcoatl coming back to Earth.
The arrival of the Spaniards in America
Christopher Columbus and the chocolate
Christopher Columbus, the man who discovered America, is the first European to taste chocolate in 1502. On his fourth trip, he lands on the island of Guadeloupe today. He was then received by natives who offer him a drink that he does not find good. Before his departure, the natives offer Columbus cocoa beans, but he quickly throws them over the edge of his boat, believing they were goat dung. Fortunately, other people after him did not have this same dislike.
The arrival of chocolate in Europe
It was not until 1528 that chocolate arrived in Europe, precisely in Spain. Hernán Cortés had a loads of treasure chocolate discovered in 1519 and brought it back. The discovery of sugarcane later makes the chocolate less bitter. The consumption of chocolate is very prevalent among missionaries and conquistadors of the New World. Chocolate is imported into Europe during the reign of Charles V in the 16th century from the Spanish court. It quickly becomes food much appreciated by the clergy and the Spanish nobility. Only the king’s court has access to it, and the people cannot discover it.
The democratization of chocolate
It was not until the industrial revolution of 1826 that chocolate began to be democratized because it became a bargaining chip. The Dutchman Coenraad Johannes van Houten lays a patent on a more digestible, defatted cocoa in 1826 and starts producing cocoa which reduces the price of chocolate. Subsequently, many factories began to be created: Suchard in 1824 or Lindt, famous brands today in the world of chocolate.
This long drive brings us to today, where chocolate is loved by most French people.