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The Story of Chocolate
The first people to make chocolate were the ancient tribes of Mexico and Central America, including the Incas, Aztec and Mayans. They mixed ground cacao seeds with various seasonings to make a spicy, frothy drink which they called chocolatl.
Despite Christopher Columbus bringing the cocoa bean back to Spain, the King and Queen never realised how important cocoa beans was to be. It was left to the great Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortez, to realise the commercial possibilities of this ‘Food for the Gods’. During his conquest of Mexico, Cortez noticed that the Aztec Indians used cocoa beans in the preparation of the royal drink of the realm, “chocolatl”, meaning warm liquid. It was reported in 1519, that Emperor Montezuma, who drank 50 or more portions daily, served chocolatl to his Spanish guests in golden goblets, treating it like a food for the gods.
Regardless of its regal association, Montezuma’s chocolatl was very bitter, and the Spanish did not appreciate its taste. To make the drink more to the liking of the Europeans, Cortez and his countrymen sweetened the Aztec Chocolate with cane sugar.
In 1519, Hernando Cortez had the idea of establishing a cocoa bean plantation. Although he was fascinated with Aztec chocolate and its bitter, spicy beverage, he had noted that cocoa beans were being used as currency and decided that, “money” will be cultivated! It was the beginning of what was to be a very profitable business.
In 1528 Cortez arrived back in Spain where he presented the Spanish King, Charles V with cocoa beans from the New World. No doubt Corte’s also taught him how to make the Aztec chocolate drink, Chocolatl.
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