When the days turn cooler, many of us turn to one of our favorite warm beverages – hot chocolate. Yet many don’t know that drinking chocolate has a history that dates back thousands of years. From over 3,000-year-old civilizations to commercialization to today, this chocolate beverage continues to evolve.
Origins of Drinking Chocolate in Early Aztec and Mayan Culture
The Aztecs believed that cocoa, and therefore chocolate, came from the gods and incorporated chocolate beverages into many of their religious ceremonies. Aztecs believed that chocolate can grant mortals wisdom from Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of learning.
Aztec and Mayan couples would also consume liquid chocolate as part of their marriage ceremonies due to its aphrodisiac properties. Yet traditional Aztec and Mayan drinking chocolate recipes are unsweetened and contain a thick layer of goat milk foam. This is far from the hot chocolate we’re know today.
Commercialization of Drinking Chocolate
A huge moment in chocolate beverages history was when Swiss Miss began serving single serving instant hot cocoa powder on airlines in the 1950’s. It was almost unrecognizable from the Aztec drinking chocolate that is originated from, containing heaps of sugar and powdered milk.
Although many argue that the spread of instant hot chocolate was a step back for drinking chocolate, it did help make history decades later. A dog sled team travelling across Antarctica is reported to have consumed 2,070 packets of Swiss Miss during their expedition.
Rise of Craft Drinking Chocolate
Latin America and Europe have held on to their traditional hot chocolate recipes throughout the centuries. However, much like craft beer and coffee, drinking chocolate is once more becoming popular in the United States. An emphasis on quality chocolate that only uses natural ingredients hints at a shift away from a quick, mediocre product and more towards unique, quality drinking chocolate.
For instance, some places are layering other flavors with the chocolate, like caramel or peanut butter, while other places incorporate drinking chocolate in alcoholic cocktails. Whatever the final outcome, it seems that the trendiest restaurants and shops will be making hot chocolate a quality product again. Try a few of our favorites here below.
Check out our bean-to-bar chocolate article too!