Chocolate, Coffee, Men – Some things are better RICH
Hello Readers and Fans:
Purchased this sign years ago as an inspiration piece for a future novel. It hung on the patio wall for a while.
In an effort to bring you topics that are not stereotype, I held a coffee mug in my hand, and lo and behold, there was the sign. So, thought you might appreciate my research on chocolate.
I do feature the hot chocolate beverage in my books since it was the elite who served it to their family and guests, and the fad became popular among aristocrats.
The history of chocolate begins in Mesoamerica. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to 1900 BC.
It came from the Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, which means “food of the gods.”
The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency. Some enterprising Aztecs actually made counterfeit cocoa beans
Cocoa bean exchange rate:
1 bean = 1 tamale
4 beans= 1 pumpkin
10 beans = 1 rabbit
10 beans = 1 lady to stay overnight!
100 beans = A good turkey hen (Interesting to note a woman had less value.)
Secrets of Aztec Dating
King Montezuma, the Aztec king, drank 50 cups of cocoa a day, and an extra one when he was going to meet a lady friend. Because of its stimulating effects, Aztec women were forbidden to drink it.
Unlike the Mayans, drinking cocoa was a luxury that few Aztecs could afford. Aztecs believed that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cocoa tree. The drink was so precious that it was served in golden goblets that were thrown away after just one use!
When we hear the word chocolate, we visualize a bar, a box of bon bons, or a bunny. The verb that comes to mind is “eat” and not “drink”. In Regency times, it was a highly coveted hot drink and not necessarily sweet. For about 90 percent of chocolate’s long history, it was strictly a beverage, and sugar didn’t have anything to do with it.
The Mayans of Central America are believed to be the first to discover cocoa as early as 900 AD. (Note: The Aztecs claim it goes back to 1900 BC.) The Mayans learned that the beans inside the cocoa pods could be harvested and made into a liquid that would become a treasured Mayan treat.
Cocoa was often consumed during religious ceremonies and marriage celebrations. All Mayans could enjoy cocoa, regardless of their social status.
Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, or even divine, properties, suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. According to Chloe Doutre-Roussel’s book The Chocolate Connoisseur, Aztec sacrifice victims who felt too melancholy to join in ritual dancing before their death were often given a gourd of chocolate (tinged with the blood of previous victims) to cheer them up!
In 1657, way before the French Revolution, the first chocolate house was opened in London by a Frenchman.
By the 17th Century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe, believed to have nutritious, medicinal and even aphrodisiac properties. It’s rumored that Casanova was especially fond of the beverage. But it remained largely a privilege of the rich until the invention of the steam engine made mass production possible in the late 1700s.
By 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate by removing about half the natural fat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor, pulverizing what remained, and treating the mixture with alkaline salts to cut the bitter taste. His product became known as “Dutch cocoa,” and it soon led to the creation of solid chocolate.
By 1868, a little company called Cadbury was marketing boxes of chocolate candies in England. Milk chocolate hit the market a few years later, pioneered by another name that may ring a bell- Nestle.
Did you know that in America, chocolate was so valued during the Revolutionary War that it was included in soldiers’ rations and used in lieu of wages? While most of us probably wouldn’t settle for a chocolate paycheck these days, statistics show that the humble cacao bean is still a powerful economic force. Chocolate manufacturing is a more than 4-billion dollar industry in the United States, and the average American eats at least half a pound of the treat per month.
So the next time you taste a fine chocolate, give a thought for the science and art that went into the creation of it.
Note: Facts were compiled from the Smithsonian, Wickipedia, Godivia, The True History of Chocolate, Sophie D. Coe/Michael D. Coe, The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloe Doutre-Roussel, and various other documents.
Enjoy the read. I welcome all comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may subscribe to my newsletter at: http://authorsandramasters.com.
Sandra Masters, Unapologetic Story Teller
P.S. You might ask why I use the term Unapologetic Story Teller. In some venues, Story Tellers are not considered, for lack of a better word, legitimate authors. I believe in Fairy Tales, so you may think of me as a rebel author with a cause--and that is, I read and write all genres of romance. ♥
Sandra Master’s Novels:
Once Upon a Duke, Debut Book 1
My Divinely Decadent Duke, Book 2
Thorn, Son of a Duke, Prequel Teaser, Book 3 (A teaser to help you wait for Book 4.)
And: THE DUKE’S MAGNIFICENT BASTARD, Book 4, coming soon late 2016, reunites many of the characters in Book 2. Stunning events have happened to affect the future of the dynasty. Consider it a family reunion. You’ll be the first to know when it’s available if you signed up for this newsletter on my website.