Flashback Fri: Chocolate through Time


We love chocolate!  It’s hard to imagine a world without it.  As promised in my previous post on chocolate, today we’ll take a quick look at the history behind it.  When did folks first discover it, and what forms did it take?  How did it change over time?



Image by David Leggett, via wikimedia commons.
Image by David Leggett, via wikimedia commons.



The beginnings: Mesoamerica (early central Americas)

image via nhcs.wikispaces.com

Chocolate was initially consumed in beverage form.  Some scholars put its use as far back as the Olmecs (1500-400 BCE), even earlier than the generally-acknowledged Mayans (250-900 CE), and Aztecs (14th CE).  Both Mayans and Aztecs used it in their sacred rituals – including cheering up sacrifice victims too depressed to dance in their own pre-sacrifice “celebrations” – and the Aztecs valued cacao beans as currency.  According to early documents, three cacao beans could get you a turkey egg (source: Cornell University).  Cacao wafers were also issued to soldiers – to be dissolved into beverage form when needed – as it was considered fortifying on long campaigns.


In their travels/take-overs, Spanish Conquistadors were introduced to chocolate (although Cortez considered it a “bitter drink for pigs”) and brought it back to Spain.  Once modifications were made, with the addition of  sweeteners, vanilla, and other flavorings more familiar to the European palate, the beverage became popular among the wealthy class in Spain.  It was also considered somewhat medicinal in nature.  But it wasn’t until the 17th century that it seemed to catch on throughout Europe.






The 19th century: chocolate changes from beverage to candy

We have the Swiss and the Dutch to thank for developing processes whereby the fat content of chocolate was reduced (and some of it added back, in the form of cocoa butter), and the resulting product could be molded more easily into bars and discs.  At first, this was intended to make it easier to dissolve into water or milk as a beverage, but the smooth, aromatic sensation of eating the resulting solid form of the chocolate made it quickly appealing.

We also have the British to thank for passing the first legislative standards for chocolate in 1860, which kept commonly-used adulterations such as brick dust (I kid you not) out of our chocolate!

Ghirardelli, Guittard, Cadbury, Lindt, Hershey, and Nestle (who invented Milk Chocolate) – all were chocolate makers who furthered the quality of chocolate in the 19th century, through various mechanical processes.  The sources below have more info about them, along with other fascinating facts.  Check them out!


Chocolate – food of the gods (Cornell University)

Cacao and Chocolate Timeline

The Food Timeline

Understanding Chocolate

Smithsonian: A Brief History of Chocolate


In the spirit of Valentine’s Day weekend decadence, here’s another favorite chocolate recipe of mine.  It’s a cross between cocktail and decadent dessert (even reading about it may be fattening, LOL).  My hubby made them for a murder mystery party we hosted a while back, and they were a big hit:

image via coffeeatlas.com

MUDSLIDE (makes 1)

from the Bartender’s Pocket Guide


1 oz Kahlua

1 oz vodka

1 oz Bailey’s Irish Cream

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

1 Oreo cookie

chocolate syrup

whipped cream


Directions: Blend the first 5 ingredients until smooth.  Circle a drizzle of chocolate syrup inside a large parfait glass.  Pour in the blended ingredients and top with whipped cream and another drizzle of chocolate syrup.


What are your favorite forms of chocolate, or do you think chocolate is wa-a-ay too fussed over?  I’d love to hear from you!

Have a great weekend,


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24 thoughts on “Flashback Fri: Chocolate through Time”

  1. Gene LemppGene Lempp

    Wait, chocolate, Mayans…the end of the world is that chocolate magically vanishes. Oh, wait, different subject *smile*

    Love the recipe, Kathy, can’t wait to try it out!

  2. Coleen PatrickColeen Patrick

    When it comes to chocolate I love the candies–like truffles and even that big old Whitman’s box 🙂

  3. Paul OwenPaul Owen

    Wow, I’d forgotten how good that mudslide was! Even better than the chocolate martini.

  4. Catie RhodesCatie Rhodes

    I became aware of drinking chocolate (not to be confused with hot cocoa) some time back. I really wanted to try some, but it was expensive, and I never did. Anyway, I wasn’t aware it was given to sacrifice victims to cheer them up. I probably shouldn’t have laughed about that, but I did. 😀

  5. Tiffany A WhiteTiffany A White

    I love chocolate…in any form. Last night we went to a cheese, chocolate, and bubbles class in downtown Dallas and I had some of the best chocolates EVER.

  6. Sonia G MedeirosSonia G Medeiros

    Mmmm…you had me at chocolate. Thank goodness for the addition of sugar though. I’ve tasted raw cacao…let’s just say it seems like an acquired taste. LOL

  7. Julie GloverJulie Glover

    So interesting. I love chocolate – dark especially. And that mudslide recipe looks yummy.

  8. August McLaughlinAugust McLaughlin

    Anything this historical MUST be healthy. 😉 Such an informative, tantalizing post. Thanks, Kathy!

  9. Stacy GreenStacy Green

    You’re killing me! Chocolate is my biggest weakness, lol. Although chocolate drinks – other than cocoa – aren’t my faves. What a cool history, though. Thanks for sharing with us:)

  10. ReettaReetta

    A delicious post! It’s always great to learn more about something we love with passion. And thanks for the Mudslide recipe. I printed it out and want to try it out asap.

  11. Natalie HartfordNatalie Hartford

    OMG that dessert/cocktail sounds DIVINE!!! I could eat the entire post. LOL!
    My fav chocolate…hmmm…right now I have a slight addiction to chocolate covered almonds that I let melt till nearly half the chocolate is gone and then…crunch crunch!! My mouth is watering…

  12. Donna NewtonDonna Newton

    Stop talking about chocolate!

    Oh, now I have to go and eat that chocolate eclair that is in the fridge 🙂

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