Years ago I did some research on the history of Chocolate, primarily because I question myself as to whether or not my 19th Century characters would have the confection we know as chocolate. Today I'm sharing some of these tidbits with all of you and I hope you enjoy them.
When Columbus came to the Americas he discovered the local chocolate drink. However it was not sweetened and the cocoa beans he brought back to King Ferdinand was overlook by the other items he returned to the Old World with.
1519 When Cortés came to Mexico he tasted the hot chocolate drink. The Cocao beans were grounded into a paste, mixed with spices including vanilla and then honey was added.
1615 This drink then went back to Spain and was enjoyed by the royal court. The ingredients of this secret beverage was hidden from all and became the drink of the court. History has it that when the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa was betrothed to Louis XIV of France, she gave her fiancé an engagement gift of chocolate, packaged in an elegantly ornate chest. Their marriage was symbolic of the marriage of chocolate in the Spanish-Franco culture. Some record the movement from Spain to France was in 1606 but personally I like the romantic story.
From there it quickly moved out of the royal courts.
1657 "Chocolate Houses" began to open in London. In much the same way that we have Coffee shops today.
1674 It was introduced in rolls and cakes.
1730 the Duke of Alba brought it into the low country as he traveled about and that dropped the price to $3 per pound. Prior to that cocoa beans were traded almost as high as gold through out different times in history.
1828 the cocoa press was invented squeezing out some of the cocoa butter giving it a smoother consistency. Cocoa Powder was also introduced through this process.
1849 Cadbury Brothers displayed eating chocolate in 1849 at an exhibition in Bingley Hall at Birmingham, England.
1851 Cocoa was introduced to the United States on Prince Albert's Expedition. Yet, chocolate wasn't really accepted by the American colonists until fishermen from Gloucester, Massachusetts, accepted cocoa beans as payment for cargo in tropical America.
For the most part Cocoa was a drink for the men. In the 17th Century it was introduced to Children.
1876 Daniel Peter of Vevey, Switzerland, experimented for eight years before finally inventing a means of making milk chocolate for eating. He brought his creation to a Swiss firm that today is the world's largest producer of chocolate: Nestle.
1879 Rodolphe Lindt of Berne, Switzerland, produced chocolate that melted on the tongue. He invented "conching," a means of heating and rolling chocolate to refine it.
1913 Swiss confiseur Jules Sechaud of Montreux introduced a process for manufacturing filled chocolates.
Lynn A. Coleman is an award winning & best-selling author who makes her home in Keystone Heights, Florida, with her husband of 42 years. Lynn's latest novel "The Shepherd's Betrothal" is the third book in her Historical St. Augustine, FL. series.
Check out her 19th Century Historical Tidbits Blog if you like exploring different tidbits of history.