1502 - Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), the first European to taste cocoa in Nicaragua, on his fourth voyage to the New World, returned to Europe with the first cocoa beans. No one knew what to do with them and they were dismissed in favor of other trade goods.

By the time the Spanish invaded Mexico in the 16th century the Aztecs had created a powerful empire and their armies were supreme in Mexico.

1519 - The voyage which led Hernan Cortes (1485-1547), Spanish conquistadores, to discover Mexico and the Aztec civilization began in 1517 when he set sail from Cuba with 11 ships and 600 men, all seeking fame and fortune in the 'New World'. Landing on the Mexican coast near Veracruz, he decided to make his way to Tenochtitlan to see for himself the famed riches of Emperor Montezuma and the Aztec empire.

It was Montezuma (1466-1520), Emperor of Mexico, who introduced Hernam Cortes to his favourite drink 'chocolatl' served in a golden goblet. American historian William Hickling's History of the Conquest of Mexico (1838) reports that Montezuma: "took no other beverage than the chocolatl, a potation of chocolate, flavored with vanilla and spices, and so prepared as to be reduced to a froth of the consistency of honey, which gradually dissolved in the mouth and was taken cold."

The fact that Montezuma consumed his "chocolatl" in goblets before entering his harem led to the belief that it was an aphrodisiac. Cortes wrote a letter to Charles V of Spain calling chocolate "The divine drink which builds up resistance & fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits man to walk for a whole day without food."When Cortes returned to Spain in 1528 he loaded his galleons with cocoa beans and chocolate drink making equipment.

Late 1500s - Introduction of chocolate to Europe.According to the article From Aphrodisiac to Health Food: A Cultural History of Chocolate, by Louis E. Grivetti:

While many recent texts and websites provide readers with a precise year and a specific event whereby chocolate was first introduced to Europe, food historians always debate “firsts” and the so-called “first” arrival of chocolate in Europe is a subject of conjecture to say nothing of myth. Chocolate may have been introduced to Europe via the Spanish court in 1544, when Dominican friars are said to have brought Mayan nobles to meet Prince Philip. I suspect, though, that this oft-cited statement is probably more allegorical than precise. It is correct to say, however, that within a century of the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico, both culinary and medicinal uses of chocolate had spread from Mexico to Spain, France, England, and elsewhere within Western Europe (entering through Spain and Portugal) and probably North America as well (entering through the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine, Florida).

1631 - In 1631, the first recipe for a chocolate drink was published in Spain by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, an Andalusian physician, in his book, Curioso tratado de la naturaleza y calidad del chocolate (A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate). This was the first work to deal exclusively with chocolate and cacao. Don Antonio is said to have lived for some time in the West Indies. Since he was a doctor, he pays a great deal of attention to the dietary aspects of chocolate and was concerned with the psychological as well as the physical effects of the drink. He says, "Chocolate is healthy. It makes the drinker 'Fat, and Corpulent, faire and Aimiable'. It was an aphrodisiac. In women it caused fertility but eased delivery, etc., etc." The ingredients in the recipe were:

"Take one hundred cocoa beans, two chillies, a handful of anise seed and two of vanilla (two pulverized Alexandria roses can be substituted), two drams of cinnamon, one dozen almonds and the same amount of hazelnuts, half a pound of white sugar and enough annatto to give some color. And there you have the king of chocolates."

1643 - It didn't take long for Spaniards to begin heating the mixture and sweetening it with sugar. Soon 'chocolate' became a fashionable drink enjoyed by the rich in Spain.

As the Spanish royalty intermarried with other European Royalty, cocoa was given as a dowry. In 1643, when the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa (1638-1683)was betrothed to Louis XIV (1638–1715) of France, she gave her fiancé an engagement gift of chocolate, packaged in an elegantly ornate chest. A royal chocolate maker was appointed and chocolate drinking became the rage.

1648 - Thomas Gage (1603-1656), an English Dominican friar and traveler, tried to intervene with the Bishop of Chiapas, Mexico over the congregation drinking chocolate during services. The women were fond of chocolate and turned church services into a coffeehouse. The Bishop tried to end this, and was consequently found dead. Poisoned chocolate was sent to the Bishop and Thomas Gage fled Chiapas. The rumor was that the women, who so hated the Bishop for this restriction, poisoned him with chocolate, hence the proverb "Beware the chocolate of Chiapa." 

Eventually, in 1662, Pope Alexander VII put a final solution to the affair when he declared "Liquidum non frangit jejunum." Translated it means "Liquids (including chocolate) do not break the fast."

In his 1656 book, Travels in the New World, Thomas Gage devotes an entire chapter to chocolate and tells how the women of the city of Chiapas, Mexico were excommunicated by the bishop because "they would not give up sipping their cups of chocolate to sustain them during high mass."

1656 - Chocolate was considered an exotic beverage throughout Europe. The “Queen’s Lane Coffee House on High Street,” Oxford, began serving both coffee and chocolate in 1656 and still serves both beverages today in the 21st century. The Public Advertiser of that day carried this notice:

"In Bishopsgate Street in Queen's Head Alley, at a Frenchman's house, is an excellent West Indian drink called chcolate, to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade, at reasonable rates."

1664 - Samuel Pepys (1663-1703), English Naval Administrator and Member of Parliament, known for hisdetailed private diary that he kept during 1660–1669. Pepys was known to frequent coffee houses and mentioned them in great detail in his 1661 to 1664 diary. He was said to strongly believing in the restorative powers of chocolate:

"April 24, 1661 - Waked in the morning with my head in a sad taking through the last night’s drink, which I am very sorry for; so rose and went with Mr Creede to drink our morning draught, which he did give me in jocolatte to settle my stomach"

"November 24, 2664.  About noon out with Commissioner Pett, and he and I to a Coffee-house, to drink jocolatte, very good; and so by coach to Westminster, being the first day of the Parliament's meeting."

1700 - By the 1700s, "Chocolate Houses" were all the rage, as popular as coffee houses.  These places were precursors of our present day cafes and bars, and they were frequented by politicians, writers, and socialites.

From the middle of the seventeenth century onwards, chocolate also enjoyed great success in Great Britain, especially after the conquest of Jamaica, which gave the British direct access to cacao production. After chocolate was introduced in England, milk was added to the after dinner treat.

By the end of the 18th century, London's chocolate houses began to disappear, many of the more fashionable ones becoming smart gentlemen's clubs.

1785 - Thomas Jefferson was to become a great lover of hot chocolate. In a letter to John Adams in 1785, he wrote:

"The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain."


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