Chocolate and sugar: Chocolate comes to Europe

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Aztec man serving a cup of cocoa

Aztec man serving a cup of cocoa

When Spanish invaders came to the court of the Aztec ruler Montezuma in 1519, Montezuma naturally served them chocolate in gold cups. The Spanish soldiers didn’t like chocolate very much, but they drank it to be polite. When they realized that chocolate had caffeine in it like coffee, they thought maybe they could sell it back home in Spain, where coffee was the new big thing. Some Maya people travelled with the Spanish to Spain and brought samples of cocoa with them.

A chocolate house in England (1700s)

A chocolate house in England (1700s)

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Sure enough, rich people in Europe loved chocolate drinks. People said chocolate was the food of love. Europeans mostly drank chocolate hot, like coffee, and they added sugar, because sugar was also a new big thing and people were already adding sugar to their coffee. By 1689, Hans Sloane in Jamaica thought of adding milk to chocolate, and with milk and sugar hot chocolate became more like the hot chocolate we drink today. In 1674, a coffeehouse in London began to mix chocolate with flour and eggs to bake the first chocolate cakes and cookies.

But only rich people could have chocolate, or coffee, or sugar, or eggs – all these things were much too expensive for most people. And people thought chocolate was for grown men, like coffee – not for women and certainly not for kids.

Meanwhile in Mexico, Spanish Christian nuns began to add cocoa to traditional Aztec sauces (mole, from the Aztec word for “sauce”). Soon a lot of people in Mexico were making sauces with chocolate in them, often with chili peppers as well.

More about Chocolate
Early History of Chocolate
Learn by Doing – Chocolate Mousse Project

Bibliography and further reading about chocolate:

Chocolate Mousse Recipe
Or a chocolate strawberries recipe
Chocolate Cake Recipe
Latin American food page home

By |2017-06-21T00:54:27+00:00June 21st, 2017|Food, Modern Europe|0 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Chocolate and sugar: Chocolate comes to Europe. Study Guides, June 21, 2017. Web. January 21, 2019.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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