A few curiosities about the history of chocolate

24 February 2021

What’s the scientific name of chocolate? It’s ‘teobroma cacao’ which literally translates as ‘food of the gods’. How many of us think the same while savouring chocolate?

Where does chocolate come from? Chocolate is of plant origin; it comes from the beans of the cocoa plant.

Does chocolate have recent origins? Absolutely no. Chocolate has very ancient origins, dating back to the Mayas.

Where does the term “chocolate” come from? It comes from the word xocolatl in Aztec, a combination of the words xocolli (bitter) and atl (water).

Has chocolate always been eaten in pralines or chocolate bars? No, cocoa was originally used as a drink.

Were there other curiosities about chocolate in ancient times? Yes, the Aztecs and Mayas associated chocolate with the goddess of fertility.

Was chocolate a common and affordable food in the past? No, cocoa beans were considered precious goods and often used as a currency of exchange.

How did chocolate come to Europe? Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover cocoa and he together with Cortes brought the beans to Europe for the first time.

And then? Throughout the 16th century, chocolate was only available in Spain, which commercialized trade for a long time but during the 17th century, chocolate became a luxury throughout Europe.

But in Italy? In 18th century Venice, chocolate was the subject of experiments and competitions: new recipes for the production of chocolate were developed in so called ‘coffee shops’ or ‘chocolate shops’.

And today? Well today, chocolate is research, passion and experience, a product to taste or an ingredient to use in sweet and savoury recipes. Chocolate can be dark, milk, filled or enriched by various ingredients but, above all, chocolate is pure pleasure!