The story of how cocoa and chocolate was first discovered and then spread to all of the major countries on Earth is a fascinating tale that includes mythology, romance, politics, slavery, intrigue, heroics, deceit, greed, war and innovation. Discover the story of cacao/cocoa and chocolate.

Cacao and chocolate is intricately intertwined with history: “kings and queens were buried with it; wars were fought for it; sculptures of stone and ceramic were devoted to it; and cacao marked marriages, births, deaths, supplications to the gods, and sacrifices… It’s not simply a “food”; it’s also a tool for marking the passage of important life events and ensuring a healthy existence. At one time, the growth of cacao in the shaded valleys and coastal plains of Mesoamerica helped to preserve the environment and protected against deforestation.”

~ Cameron McNeil, Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao.

Cocoa and Chocolate: but probe deeper into this sweet-sounding word – follow its roots to the Mesoamerica cultures – and you’ll find a flow of time that reaches across Europe, through Asia, and into the African continent.


Theobroma cacao is the modern scientific name for chocolate, and it is indeed fitting, for Theo “of Gods” broma “food” in Greek. means “food of the gods.”

The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa had the right idea when he wrote early in the last century:

Look, there’ s no metaphysics on earth like chocolate.

Chocolate is a substance long regarded as magical, even supernatural, not to mention salubrious, today for its heart – healthy properties, yesterday because of a solid medicinal reputation as well as an aphrodisiacal one.

Chocolate begins as seeds in a pod, that pod the fruit of the cacao tree Theobroma“ Not incidentally, the scientific name means “drink of the gods, ” by way of continuing the metaphysical.

Etymology of cocoa and chocolate is not certainly known; however, there are various arguments about it.

Languages of Mesoamerica, in their approximate locations as of a.d. 1500 (after Kaufman 1994).

The map groups languages into the families or major subgroups of which they were members, which were individual languages between about 1200 and 600 B.C. (The locations of many were substantially different in that era from what is depicted here.) Areas of Nawa or Nahua speech are shaded in gray. Individual languages (isolates) are specified in plain type; language families and subgroups are in bold.


Olmec or Aztecs word roots?

Note how similar the word for cacao is in different Mesoamerican languages:

  • proto-Zoquean or Soquean – *kakawa;
  • proto-Mixean or Mijean- *kakaw;
  • Nahua – /kakawa-tl/;
  • Mazahua – /kakawa/;
  • proto-Mayan, Totonac, Salvador Lenka – /kakaw/;
  • Paya/pech – [kaku];
  • Purhépecha: – /khe´kua/.
  • Boruka, Tol,- and Honduras Lenka – [kaw]

Because the word has two different proposed etymologies, one that goes back to the deep past of the Mixe-Zoquean language family of the Olmecs, and one that traces the word to the earliest Nahuan language, the language of the Aztecs. The debates pitting the Nahuas and the Olmecs against each other as being the “founders of Mesoamerican civilization”.

One group of scholars argue that the Olmecs were a Mixe-Zoquean (proto-Mije-Sokean) speaking people who cultivated maize, beans, squash and cacao and exported their knowledge and vocabulary to most of the other language groups in Mesoamerica.

Another group of scholars argue that Nahuan or Uto-Aztecan speakers were among the original founders of the culture area, and that they were among the most politically and culturally important groups already in the formative era (starting about 2000 BC, and becoming the Classic period around 200 CE), and that they might have been the main group behind the rise of the mega-empire of Teotihuacan (Teotihuacan collapsed around 600 CE).

An understanding of words related to cacao and to chocolate preparation has the potential for providing unique insight into the history of trade and cultural relationships among the diverse peoples of Mesoamerica. That is why determining the ultimate source of words such as cacao becomes important. If the history of that word can be successfully sorted out, either the early dominance of Mixe – Zoquean speaking peoples will be confirmed, or an early influential presence of Uto – Aztecan speakers in Mesoamerica will have to be accepted. However, neither of these conclusions rules out the other. Both of them could be correct, regardless of any conclusion about the word cacao. Historical linguistics is far from an exact science…

Epigraphic Mayan

Timeline: The story of cocoa and chocolate
Both cacáo glyphs that adorn the Chocolate Pot

In the 1980s Yale anthropologist Michael Coe recognizes the PSS (Primary Standard Sequence) of Mayan glyphs – a dedicatory pattern or signature adorning ceramic vessels.

Harvard epigrapher David Stuart turns the final key in unlocking the Mayan code to decipher the tapestry of glyphs carved on walls and painted on pottery by scribes telling the story of a once-lost and now re-found civilization.

1984, “The Chocolate Pot” discovered in Tomb 19 at Rio Azul Guatemala by REW Adams is – the Rosetta Stone of cacao.

Rio Azul Chocolate Pot (glyph for cacáo at left on vessel lid; color courtesy of Denver Museum of Natural History; B&W, George Stuart)

The Chocolate Pot’s historical magnitude resides in:

  • first vessel analyzed with ancient caco residue, dating to circa 455 – 465 CE
  • Mayan glyphic inscription proclaiming its contents of two types of cacáo (one perhaps being Theobroma bicolor?)
  • pure prima facie beauty.

Vessels were labor-intensive arts and crafts and among the most important valuables a Mesoamerican owned, stamped with their personal insignia.

Variations of Cacao Glyphs Painted on other Pottery Include a host of cacao drinks:

YUTAL KAKAW (generally translated ‘fruity cacáo’) – the most common PSS inscription on Classic Maya vessels

SUUTZ KAKAW – capulin (Prunus serotina) or black cherry

TZAH KAKAW – sweet cacao

SA’AL KAKAW – gruel-ish chocolate (probably corn + cacao)

In Arte-Chocolate’s Antecedents: Arte Para Aprender la Lengua Mexicana (1547 CE), the first Nahuatl grammar book compiled by a European — the Franciscan André de Olmos, assistant to the first archbishop / ‘Protector of the Indians’ in Mexico Juan de Zumárraga, on page 32, translates ‘coatl’ to ‘cocoa’.

The story of cocoa and chocolate


When the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the New World and began invading, colonizing, and ultimately destroying the native cultures, they also discovered the local cacao crop and the “chocolate drink” made out of it.

Kakawatl (spelled <cacauatl>)

No word chikola:tl or chokola:tl existed in the sixteenth century or before and drinks made from cacao were referred to as kakawatl <cacaua atl> or by expressions that included it.

Alonso de Molina lists:

  • drink made from cacao with maize – ‘beuida de cacao con mayz’ : <cacaua atl> /kakawa=a:-tl/ (“cacao water”);
  • drink made from cacao with chilli pepper – ‘beuida de cacao con axi’ : <chillo cacauatl, chilcacauatl> /chi:l.loh kakawa-tl/ (“peppery cacao”), /chi:l=kakawa-tl/ (“pepper cacao’);
  • drink made from cacao alone – ‘beuida de cacao ſſolo’ : <atlanelollo cacauatl> /ah tla-nelo:.l.loh kakawa-tl/ (“unmixed cacao”).

Evidence shows that in the Spanish of central Mexico, chocolate was called cacao until well into the seventeenth century.

Chokola:tl Chocollatl

The use by Hernández of Nawa chokola:tl (spelled <chocollatl>) shows that the word existed in Nawa by 1577, but it does not show where in the Nawa-speaking world it was used. Hernández collected information in various parts of Mexico, as well as in Peru and the Philippines.

Hernández [1577]:2:304 says that

hacen tambien de ella una bebida”

(they also make a drink from it [cacao]), but he goes on to describe different drinks made with maize and <cacahoatl> /kakawa-tl/, by which term he specifically refers to the kernel:

1. water flour – <atextli> /a:=tex-tli/ ‘pasta aguada’: ground <cacáhoatl> mixed with ‘grano indio’ (maize)—for refreshment and nourishment; also as an aphrodisiac;

2. [unnamed]: made from kernels of – <cacahoapatlachtli>

3. broad/flat cacao – <cacáhoatl> , and ‘grano indio’ (maize)—for nourishment and refreshment;

4. <chocóllatl> /chokol=a:-tl/: made from an equal number of kernels of <pochotl> /po:cho:-tl/ (Ceiba) and <cacahoatl> , with ‘grano indio’ (maize)—drunk lukewarm as a fattener and as a medicine for tuberculosis;

5. hairy, furry – <tzone> / : equal parts of roasted ‘grano indio’ (maize) and <cacáhoatl>—for refreshment and nourishment, not as medicine.

kakawatl (listed by Molina)+ chocol haa (Mayan for ‘hot water’)… Spaniards quite likely glossed Mayan chocol (hot) + Nawa atl (water) = chocolatl (cited by botanist Francisco Hernández ca. 1580)… eventually boils down to – chocolate.

chokola:tl and chikola:tl are found in few indigenous languages, the term may not have existed in pre-Columbian times, as it is unattested in Molina’s Vocabulario and Sahagún’s Primeros Memoriales and Historia general, before 1577. Until this time, and still today in many languages, the word for cacao was also used for drinks made from it.

© Piero Fornasetti

Cocoa and chocolate trough history

Many of these dates are approximate.

10 milion years ago

flower of cocoa
flower of cocoa

Current analysis indicates that the species Theobroma cacao, a tree belonging of the Malvaceae family of plants, diverged from its most recent common ancestor 9.9 Ma – roughly 10 million years ago – as part of the Andean Uplift during the mid-Miocene Epoch.

10000 BC – 15000 BC

Modern formation of the more diversified Theobroma cacao in, all likelihood, the Amazon Rainforest, from whose seeds chocolate would eventually be derived; the earlier date would coincide with the founding populations that peopled the Americas.

7900 BC

The Popol Vuh, a sacred text of Mesoamericans, appears to give a long count calendar date for te first sprout of maize and – by symbolic though not necessarily historical association – cacao, as 1 Manix (manixliterally ‘worker with the Earth’), celebrating their invention on Day One, around 7,900 BC, probably along the Pacific Coast near current day El Salvador. This mythology coincides with the oral history of the Lenca enclave there who call themselves ‘the people of corn and chocolate’

Detail of K5615. Head of Hun Hunahpu transforming into a cacao pod. Illustration by Michael J. Grofe

3500 BC – 3300 BC

The archaeological site at Santa Ana-La Florida, Zamora Chinchipe, along the eastern slopes of the Andes mountains in present-day Ecuador. The Mayo Chinchipe culture reveals organic residues of a diet rich in

  • pepper (Capsicum spp.),
  • beans (family Fabaceae),
  • cassava (Manihot esculenta),
  • yams (Dioscorea spp.),
  • sweet potato (Ipomoea spp.),
  • corn (Zea mays),
  • coca, datura, and yage.

Additionally, ancient traces of starch granules of cacao (Theobroma spp.), plus cacao de monte (Herrania spp.) inside several ceramic and stone vessels. Which served both in ceremonial settings (burials ) and domestic kitchen ware.

1900 BC – 1800 BC

Among the original cultivators of cacao, where the Mokaya (“People of the Corn”). The lived during Barra Ceramic Phase, know for thin-walled, finely finished and elaborately decorated pottery vessels. The Peole of the corn lived in present day Soconusco on Pacific Coast of Chiapas, Mexico.

Those vessels eventually became ‘social currency’ among Mesoamericans, exchanged at feasts and ceremonial visits, preserved as heirlooms and funerary companions in the afterlife.

1800 BC 1600 BC

An array of pottery vessels,recovered at the Olmec capital of San Lorenzo and its neighboring ritual site at El Manati test theobromine-positive. That strongly indicates they once contained cacao, most likely in some liquid form.

Of particular curiosity: the finding of several hundred vessels a top a mass grave for sacrificial victims at the height of San Lorenzo’s power. They furnish ample evidence of a well-attended, elite mortuary rite which included the preparation of stored cacao droughts that were ritually served and imbibed.

1500 BC

Suggested date for the domestication of Theobroma cacao in northeastern Ecuador.

1100 BC

Analysis of pottery fragments from Rio Ul ú a Valley in northern Honduras, reveal presence of theobromine and suggested use of a “chocolate beer” or “chocolate wine.” This Olmec-related village people speculatively used to ferment the cacao pulp.

1,000 BC

First pottery appears along the Atlantic coast of North America.

1st century

1000 BC – 200 CE

The Chocolá site, is situated on a plateau below volcanic mountain ridges at 500-1000m altitude. It’s cacao groves where vitally important, its worth in commerce and cosmology rivaled only by maize. It is an epicenter of chocolate lore.

Early signs of high complexity at Chocolá are attributed to intense cultivation of cacao, irrigated by hydraulic water springs. The site had a lucrative long-distance trade network.

Yale Prof. Michael Coe suggests the monumental stone-sculptors of Izapa (Xoconocho) to form the connective tissue between the earlier Olmec and the later Maya, that loosely ties them all together. If so, this represents a key development for the Southern Maya Area. Plausibly, a seminal link in the rise of Classic Mayan civilization. It’s architecture, city-states, hieroglyphic literacy, detailed ceramics and advanced math / astrology.

Many believe that cacao culture reached its zenith there and then… the Maya naturally selected prized cultivars for their hi-flavor, bringing forth the finest cacao ever cultivated on Earth. Quite possibly true insofar as Friar Francisco Ximénez, noted translator of the holy Mayan text Popul Vuh, recorded single-origin cacaos in the Americas, saying that the absolute best grew along this Pacific coast.

Over the centuries – millennia really – the Maya developed and refined chocolate craft. They planted for variety and diversity on a stunning scale – each selection based on desirable traits and described by respective fruit colors:

  • ix sac : white
  • ix kan: yellow
  • ix chak: red
  • ix morado: purple
  • ix box: black

600 BC

Excavated Mayan pot from Colha, Belize, contains chocolate residue.

450 BC

Vessel from Tomb 19, Rio Azul, Guatemala, contains chocolate residue. The “rosetta stone of cocolate”.

The “Dazzler Vase”, arguably the most famed vessel from all of Mesoamerica, recovered from within the royal ‘Margarita Tomb’ in Copán, Honduras.

A well-preserved layer of cacao residue lines the bottom of the vase, retaining the hue of dark chocolate, the remains of a ritual draft. The intent is that cacao would sustain the departed on their long journey thru the underworld… the finest offering made even more sacred by its escorting them.

The story of cocoa and chocolate
Dazzler vase

600 CE – 900 CE

Bowl with cacao beans carved out of shells, from royal tomb at Ek ’Balam, Yucat á n, Mexico.

683 CE

Death of King Pakal “Ajaw K’inich Janaab’ Pakal”, Palenque in B’aakal region, Mexico. Arguably the most renowned of all Mayan monarchs anywhere, in addition to the longest ruling, more than 3 K’atuns = 68 years. The B’aakal area flourished during Pakal’s reign to eclipse the great city of Tik’al.

Carved stone-relief on the north and south ends of his famed sarcophagus, depict his mother, Queen Zac K’uk’, as re-born thru a cacao tree.

The story of cocoa and chocolate
Bas-relief of Queen Zac K’uk’ on the North End of her son King Pakal’s sarcophagus (left); mirror image (right) drawn by Merle Greene Robertson.

881 CE

Painted capstone from the Temple of the Owls, Chichén Itzá , Mexico, showing emergence of the deity K’awil from the Underworld.

K’awiil gathering cacao beans and other foodstuffs. a. Painted capstone. Unpro-
venienced. Late Classic period. Museo Amparo, Puebla, Mexico. Drawing by Simon Martin after a photograph in M. E. Miller and S. Martin 2004:Plate 31. b. Painted capstone. Dzibilnocac, Mexico. Late Classic period. Drawing by Simon Martin after a photograph by Gallen N. Charles in Fuente 1999:Plate 140.

770 CE

Earliest Chocolate in North America? Site 13 near Canyonlands in present-day Utah was home to peoples who grew corn and dwelt in subterranean houses. Ceramic bowls excavated from the area contain traces of theobromine and caffeine — two markers for chocolate derived from cacao nuts imported from thousands of miles away to the south in a trade network that included parrots and copper bells among other goods.

790 CE

900 CE

Red Temple at Cacaxtla, Tlaxcala, Mexico with mural of Mayan merchant deity, God L, pictured in front of a cacao tree.

MEXICO: TREELORE - On the historical and mythical origins of cacao in Mesoamerica
God L with merchant’s pack and cacao tree. Mural detail. Late Classic period. Red Temple, Cacaxtla, Mexico. Drawing by Simon Martin after a photograph by Enrico Ferorelli in M. E. Miller and S. Martin 2004:Figure 24.

13th century

1325 CE

Tenochtitlán, modern day Mexico City, founded by Mexica/Aztecs.

1350 CE

Beginning of the Inca empire in modern Peru.

Late 14th, early 15th century

Nuttal Codex from Oaxaca, Mexico, illustrating exchange of cacao during a wedding ceremony.
Madrid Codex, pages showing chocolate and four deities piercing their ears with obsidian blades; flower god Nik in association with a cacao tree; wedding ceremony featuring honeycomb and cacao beverage.

1402 – 1472 CE

Chocolate mentioned in poem by King of Texcoco, Netzahualcoyotl.

The story of cocoa and chocolate
Thus emperor, warrior, poet & sage who has also graced the Mexican 100 peso note.

Thus emperor, warrior, poet and sage who has also graced the Mexican 100 peso note.
A song by Nezahualcoyotl himself:

My friends, stand up!
The princes have become destitute,
I am Nezahualcoyotl,
I am a singer,
head of macaw.
Grasp your flowers and your fan.
With them go out to dance!
You are my child,
you are Yoyontzin.
Take your chocolate,
flower of the cacao tree,
may you drink all of it!
Do the dance,
do the song!
Not here in our house,
we do not live here,
you also will have to go away.

1492 CE

Ferdinando and Isabella, the Spanish Kings, finance voyage of Christopher Columbus. Columbus reaches Caribbean landfall.

Flag of jolly rogers

16th century

1502 CE

Christopher Columbus’ s son, Ferdinand, describes events related to the fourth voyage of his father to Honduras and Panama: first mention of cacao/chocolate in a European language.

“Our men brought the canoe alongside the flagship. For provisions they had such roots and grains as the Indians of Española eat, also a wine made of maizei.e.chicha, that tasted like English beer.
They had as well many of the almonds which the Indians of New Spain use as currency; and these the Indians in the canoe valued greatly, for I noticed that when they were brought aboard with the other goods, and some fell to the floor of the ship, all the Indians squatted down to pick them up as if they had lost something of great value.”

1519 CE

Hernán Cortés marches overland to Tenochtitlan, enters the Aztec city Mexìcâ and drinks chocolate with Montezuma.

1521 CE

August 13… violent fall of Tenochtitlán, capital of the Aztec Empire, and its royal treasury of cacao to Hernan Cortés and his Spanish Conquistadores. A steady presence Europans, marks the end of a way of for those people after 4635 years accoriding to their mesoamerican long count calendar.

With the destruction of the Aztecs’ capital in 1521, and the downfall of their empire, we enter an era in which chocolate-taking was transformed and creolized by the Spanish conquerors, and even new terminology invented, including the very word chocolate itself. Cocoa and chocolate was transformed, renamed, and became a luxury drink as it was brought to Europe, where it was considered a medicine to be taken.

The addition of novel ingredients in European recipes shows new floral scents like rose water, orange blossoms, and jasmine. An increased usage of nuts like almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts compared to the Mesoamerican recepies.

1522 CE

Cortés reports to Emperor Charles V on his return to Spain (fact), presumably carrying cacao seeds in tow (supposition), after writing to him a line (of probable fiction; see entry below dated 1556) that has become a chain letter sent across the world of chocolate:

“These seeds, which they call almonds or cacao, are ground and made into powder, and some other small seeds they have are also ground, and the powder put into ceramic vessels shaped with a spout. They then add water and stir with a spoon, and after it is well-mixed they pour it back and forth from one vessel to another until it’s foamy. The foam is gathered and put into a cup, and when they are ready to drink the beverage they agitate it with some small spoons made of gold, or silver or wood. To drink one must open the mouth wide since it has a froth so it’s necessary to make room for it to dissolve and so go in gradually.
The drink is the most wholesome and substantial of any food or beverage in the world, because whoever drinks a cup of this liquor can go thru a whole day without taking anything else even if on a cross-country journey…”

1524 CE

Account by Father Toribio de Benavente, one of “ The Twelve ” Franciscan priests sent to Mexico, describes use of cacao beans as money, and as a general beverage:

“ This cocoa is a very general drink; they grind it and mix it with corn and other grund seeds; and this is also a major use of the cocoa seeds. It is good and it is considered as a nutritious drink. ”

Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdéz publishes La historia general y natural de las Indias; identifies chocolate as healthy.

1531 CE

1st recorded appearance of cacao, along with the chocolate-drinking vessels – xicalli, hispanicized as  jícaras.The where carried in the Old World from Tepetlaoztoc via Veracruz, Mexico to Spain by servants of the encomendero Gonzalo de Salazaar.

1538 CE- 1539 CE

After conquering the Incas, Pizzaro dispatches Peranzures de Campo Redondo to explore the land of the Chunchos in forests east of the Peruvian Andes where his expedition comes upon a river valley filled with cacao groves – the first account of Theobroma cacao in the Amazon.

1544 CE

Commonly cited year for the introduction of chocolate to the Spanish court. Kekchi Maya voyage to Europe, brought to Spain by Dominican priests. They offer the draft of foaming chocolate while visiting with Prince Philip of Spain, the later Philip II. Melchor and Alonso Pacheco establish small cacao farms in northern Belize.

1552 CE

Martin de la Cruz (Juan Badianus) writes and illustrates the Mexica herbal today known as the Badianus Codex. Contains image of a cacao tree.

The story of cocoa and chocolate
Illustration of Theobrama Cacao; Badianus Manuscript pl. 68

1560 CE

Spain begins an annual treasure fleet… a convey ranging anywhere from 17 to 50 ships, to protect or at least minimize losses against piracy.

Starting with Francois Le Clerc, begin their dogged pursuit of Spanish ships laden with gold, silver, pearls, gems, tobacco, spices and cocoa. Out for sheer profit and sport they lurk the waters under the Jolly Roger Flag and a business motto of ‘no prey, no pay’.

Rumored introduction of a cacao tree into Asia, on the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia from Caracas, Venezuela.

1575 CE

Giralimo Benzoni writes in his History of the New World , that chocolate is more a drink for pigs than for humans.

1577 CE

Francisco Hernández completes his nearly 900 page natural history – Obras Completas, that includes the first systematic botany and natural history of cacao on record after Philip II commissioned him in 1569 to travel to Nueva España, now days Mexico, where he wrote it at the Royal Indian Hospital.

1585 CE

It was Caterina, daughter of Filippo II of Spain, who married Carlo Emanuele I, Duke of Savoy to spread chocolate with the arrival in Florence, Italy, at the Court of Cosimo III de Medici.

1590 CE – 1598 CE

Florentine Codex identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.
Indians, with permits, granted right to sell chocolate on the streets of Mexico City.

Juan de Cárdenas identifi es medicinal uses of chocolate. Agustin Farfan identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

First mention of chocolate in France. A french translation of Jose de Acosta ’ s Histoire naturelle et morale des Indes tant occidentales qu ’ orientales.

1st recorded shipment of cocoa to the Old World for commercial purposes; Veracruz, Mexico to Seville, Spain. The fleet tax records indicate no cacao beans were transported since Europe then lacked the knowledge and equipment to manufacture the raw material into a consumable good.

The Florentine Codex depicting the preparation of cacao. The process of roasting, grinding cacao beans into cocoa paste with a pestle, a mano, on a flat mortar, a metate, and frothing the drink pouring it from one vessel to the other.
The Florentine Codex depicting the preparation of cacao. The process of roasting, grinding cacao beans into cocoa paste with a pestle, a mano, on a flat mortar, a metate, and frothing the drink pouring it from one vessel to the other.

Late 1590s

Demographic shifts, diseases, and overproduction virtually wipe out Mesoamerican cacao; Spanish colonists eventually shift major production zones and transport cacao seedlings to the Caribbean and northern coast of South America.

The European invasions of South America in the 16th and 17th centuries, principally by the Spanish and Portuguese, were to have a dramatic impact. The military conquests destroyed the Inca state; the consequent epidemics and social chaos reduced this and other indigenous societies by up to 93%.

The Jesuit José de Acosta, writing in 1590:

“The main benefit of this cacao is a beverage which they make called Chocolate, which is a strange thing valued in that country. It disgusts those who are not used to it, for it has a foam on top, or a scum-like bubbling. . . It is a valued drink, which the Indians offer to the lords who come or pass through their land. And the Spanish men, and even more the Spanish women, are addicted to the black chocolate.”

Acosta 1940 [1590]:251

In Colonial Mesoamerica, as in the Catholic countries of Europe, there were ecclesiastical prohibitions, in particular regarding the use of chocolate during fasts. Some religious orders debated whether to prohibit their members from drinking chocolate, but it proved impossible to enforce that extreme position.

The main issue concerning whether chocolate broke the ecclesiastical fast was to define whether it was a drink or a food. If it was a food, not just a drink, then it could not be taken by practicing Catholics during the fasting hours, which ran from midnight until Holy Communion (in 1962, Vatican Council II shortened this period to one hour). Nor could it be taken on the fast days of Lent. A fast was a penance intended to mortify the flesh by denying it any kind of food.

The issue was argued among ecclesiastics,including popes and laymen for about four hundred years. Some religious orders, like the Jesuits, supported the drinking of chocolate on the grounds that it did not break the fast because it was just a beverage. The Domenicans were  against it.

17th century

Early 1600s

Middle Passage begins in earnest, inhumanely herding Africans onto slave ships destined for sugarcane, cotton, coffee and cacao plantations in the New World after many Amerinds succumb to European diseases and weapons.

1602 CE

Henry IV charges the Gramont family, who govern the city of Bayonne in the French Basque region, to offer protection to Jews fleeing the Inquisition in Spain. It is believed that some of these refugees were chocolate makers. Samuel de Champlain travels in the Caribbean; describes cacao trees and their uses:

“ there is a tree, which is called cacao …
When this fruit is desired to be made use of, it is reduced to powder, then a paste is made, which is steeped in hot water, in which honey … is mixed and a little spice; then the whole being boiled together, it is drunk in the morning, warm … and they find themselves so well after having drunk of it that they can pass a whole day without eating or having great appetite.”

1604 CE

English edition of José de Acosta’s book on chocolate.

1606 CE

Antonio Carletti, takes chocolate in Spain and Italy. From there, it spreads to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Chocolate was produced in Italy in the cities of Florence, Venice and Turin.

1615 CE

Spanish princess Anne of Austria marries the boy-king Louis XIII — both 14 years-old at the time of their wedding — to quell enmity between rivals France and Spain. Legend has it that she gave her all with an engagement present of chocolate which leads to the spread of chocolate among European aristocracy. The story cannot be confirmed and is considered apocryphal.

Francisco Hernández publishes Quatro Libros de la Naturaleza. Provides sketch of cacao tree and discusses uses of cacao.

1616 CE

Report of wild cocoa trees growing in Trinidad.

1618 CE

Publication of Bartolomé Marradón’s Diálogo del Uso, the 1st book devoted to chocolate; an imaginary 3-way dialogue between an Amerindian, a physician, and a common citizen, each taking a different viewpoint (idolatry, medical, satanic) in a fantastic treatise of Indo-European bridge-work on the pros and cons of cacáo, highlighting its potency, sorcery, and blasphemy.

1621 CE

Inquisition document from Mexico, related to witchcraft, contains a spell using dirt from a woman’ s grave mixed with chocolate to make a violent husband harmless.

“Under her bed a piece of flesh from one of the quarters of a man who had been hanged, and that she had roasted it and mixed with her chocolate. ”

1624 CE

Un Discurso de Chocolate by Dr. Santiago Valverde Turices; first guide on chocolate for:

“the many people who are now discussing chocolate… asking if it’s healthy or harmful”

Rauch publishes his Disputatio Medico Dioetetica and condemns cocoa as a beverage that inflames human passion.

1626 CE

Inquisition document (Mexico): declaration related to witchcraft.

“Inthe city of Tepeaca … Before Mr. Domingo Carvajal y Sosa, Commissioner of the Holy Office, appeared, without being called and swearing to tell the truth, a woman who said her name was Ana Perdomo, widow of Ardiga, of this city, who is 28 years old. (A long, complicated story is told, basically: her husband was in love with a woman named Augustina de Vergara and Augustina) gave him menstrual blood to drink in his chocolate.”

1629 CE

Inquisition document (Mexico): declaration related to witchcraft:

“Magdalena Mendes the half woman of Francisco Palacios, a Spanish man, said that a mulatto woman named María gave her a herb for her to give it to the man that she was with, so he will forget the other woman. And she told her that she should dissolve that herb in chocolate and give it to him four times. She also told her, that another thing she could do in order for him to forget the other woman, was to find the heart of a crow, mixed with the excrements of that woman, and give this potion to him mixed with his chocolate drink.”

The Dominicans view on chocolate in dispute with the Jesuits became acidic when, in the Spaniard Juan de Solórzano y Pereyra made the usual claim that chocolate excited the venereal appetite, arguing that in order to protect the flesh from sin (which was the reason for the fast), the beverage should be prohibited on Lent.

1631 CE

Colmenero de Ledesma publishes first book dedicated entirely to chocolate: Curioso Tradado de la Naturaleza y Calidad del Chocolate, Dividido en Quatro Puntos.

Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma’s Curioso tratado de la naturalez y calidad del Chocolate (Madrid, 1631). Image courtesy of the the Bibloteca Nacional de España
Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma’s Curioso tratado de la naturalez y calidad del Chocolate (Madrid, 1631). Image courtesy of the the Bibloteca Nacional de España

1636 CE

Antonio de Leon Peinelo publishes Question Moral se el Chocolate Quebranta el Ayuno Eclesiastico: moral issues regarding whether or not chocolate is a food, can be consumed during Lent and so on.

Cacao introduced to Puerto Rico.

1632 CE – 1637 CE

Spanish Monarchy imposes first “vice tax” on cacao and its chocolate ingredients. Letter signed by King Philip IV of Spain instructs payment of 12,300 reales for 41 arrobas or 1025 pounds of chocolate. Letter states that it was “ his will that the persons who brought the chocolate to Madrid, would be paid.

1638 CE

Cacao trees introduced to Jamaica.

1643 CE

Reign of Louis XIV begins. Palace guests customarily get served cocoa at 10AM while the host is still in bed.

1645 CE

Lent celebrated with chocolate gifts at the Jesus Maria Convent, Mexico City.

King of Spain issues royal decree rescinding permission for vendors (defined as mestizo, mulatto, black, and Chinese) to sell cocoa and chocolate within all his dominions.

1648 CE

Thomas Gage identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

1649 CE

Cacao introduced into the Antilles.

1650 CE

1651 CE

Benjamin d’Acosta establishes first cacao – producing plant in New World on Martinique.

1659 CE

King Louis XIV of France grants David Chaliou royal patent to manufacture liquid, pastille (lozenge) or box form chocolate.

1660 CE

America loses its birthright as cacao begins to circumnavigate the globe from its New World home in the form of seedlings/grafts.
First across the Pacific to the Philippines, then later to the South Pacific, Africa, and all around the Caribbean basin.

The story of cocoa and chocolate
Expansion of cocoa cultivation from its area of origin, the American continent.

Principle routes of cacao movement:
1 ) 1660-70 Mexico to Philippines;
2 ) 1664 -51 Amazon to Martinique;
3 ) Philippines -> Indonesia;
4 ) 1757 Amazon -> Trinidad;
5 ) Early 19th Century Indonesia -> Ceylon (Sri Lanka); 6 ) 18th & 19th Centuries Amazon -> SE Brazil;
7 ) 1822 Brazil -> San Principe;
8 ) 1840s Dublin -> Sierra Leone;
9 ) 1861 Ecuador -> Guatemala;
10 ) 1880-1 Trindad -> Ceylon (Sri Lanka);
11 ) 1883 Trinidad -> Fiji;
12 ) 1892-3 Trinidad -> Nicaragua & back;
13 ) 1898 Trinidad -> Costa Rica & Colombia;
14 ) 1890 Venezuela -> Ecuador;
15 ) 1930s Ecuador -> Costa Rica & Panama;
16 ) 1880s Trinidad, Venezuela, & Ecuador -> São Tomé;
17 ) 1899 Trinidad, Venezuela, Ecuador & Central America to Cameroon;
18 ) late 19th Century Indonesia to Samoa
(Source: The Genetic Diversity of Cacao, B.G.D. Bartley)

Expansion of cocoa cultivation from its area of origin, the American continent.


Anonymous author publishes erotic chocolate poem in The Vertues of Chocolate, East – India Drink.
The pamphlet explained, that “by this pleasing drink health is preserved, sickness diverted.”
also claimed chocolate could cure kidney stones and urinary problems, and promised women that drinking chocolate would make them very attractive to the opposite sex.

Anonymous, The Vertues of Chocolate East-India Drink (Oxford: Henry Hall, 1660), one page.


By this pleasing drink health is preserved,
sicknesse diverted,
It cures Consumptions and Cough of the Lungs;
it expells poyson, cleanseth the teeth, and sweetneth the Breath; provoketh Urine; cureth the stone and strangury, maketh Fatt and Corpulent, faire and aimeable, it cureth the running of the Reins, with sundry other desperate Diseases; It causeth Conception according to these Verses:

Nor need the Women longer grieve,
Who spend their oyle yet not Conceive,
For ’tis a Help Immediate,
If such but Lick of Chocolate.
Beauty gaind and continued,
as this verse speaketh,
The Nut-Browne Lasses of the Land,
Whom Nature vail’d in Face and hand,
Are quickly Beauties of High-Rate,
By one small Draught of Chocolate.
It is impossible to innumerate all new and
admirable effects then producing every day
in such as drink it, therefore I’le leave the
Judgement of it, to those who daily make a
continual proofe of it.
University Giessen

These drinks ( along with coffee) are to be sold by James Gough at M. Sury’s neare East gate. December 1660.

1662 CE

Henry Stubbe identifies medicinal uses of chocolate: The Indian Nectar or a Discourse Concerning Chocolata.

Pope Alexander VII settled the debate over chocolate and fasting with a single sentence:

“Liquidum non frangit jejunum [Liquids which would have included drinking chocolate do not break the fast].”

and the faithful could consume it on Fridays and even during Lent.

1664 CE

Franciscus Maria Brancatius discusses chocolate: De Chocalatis Potu Diatribe.

Colbert creates the West Indies Company and gives it trading monopoly in the French Antilles.

D’Acosta and other Jews in Martinique lose the right to trade in cacao.

1665 CE

Simon Paulli writes the uses/abuses of tobacco with commentaries on chocolate and tea: Commentarius de Abusu Tabaci.

1670 CE

Statement by Sir Thomas Modyford regarding Jamaica: Argues that the island should be populated as quickly as possible and that owners of ships will willingly transport slaves:

“The price being males 12 £ to 15 £ , females 10 £ to 12 £ ready money, with which they buy cocoa which nearly doubles at their return, so that many [slaves] have been brought hither [to Jamaica] within these ten months. ”

First mention of chocolate in the Bayonne Municipal Archive. Used by town offi cials as gifts for persons of “ consequence. ” Chocolate brought to France from Spain.

Commonly accepted year when cacao plantations began to be developed in the Philippines by Pedro Bravo do  los Camerinos.
Portuguese report presence of cacao beans during exploration of Amazon River headwaters.

1671 CE

First French chocolatière reference is in a letter by the Marquise de Sévigné to her adult daughter, Madame de Grignan, whom she advises to take chocolate as a medical restorative for fatigue. The Marquise writes:

“You have no chocolatière — I’ ve thought about it a thousand times! How will you make it chocolate? ”

Praliné, the wreckage of a kitchen accident (a dropped bowl of almonds and a pan of burnt sugar) by the pastry chef to the duc de Choiseul – compte du Plesslis-Praslin (ambassador under Louis XIII) – who was then served whatever could be scraped off the floor; he ate it up.

1672 CE

William Hughes identifi es medicinal uses of chocolate, with specifi comments on asthma:

The American Physitian [sic] … Whereunto is added a Discourse on the Cacao – Nut – Tree, and the Use of Its Fruit, with All the Ways of Making Chocolate. “ [Cacao] being very nourishing … and keepeth the body fat and plump … Chocolate is good against all coughs shortness of breath, opening and making the roughness of the artery smooth …
[chocolate] strengthens the vitals and is good against fevers, catarrhs, asthmaes [ sic ], and consumptions of all sorts.”

Hot cocoa, according to the International Cocoa Organization, Sir Hans Sloane details in the American Physitian a medicinal recipe using milk in drinking chocolate which he believes has therapeutic properties but because the taste is unpalatable, he boils the beans in milk and sugar, creating the 1st milk chocolate draft.

1674 CE

The Coffee Mill and Tobasco Roll Shoppe in London prepares the ‘Spanish-style Chocolate Roll’, forerunner to the Tootsie Roll™ as well as the modern chocolate bar, to be eaten rather than drunk.

1677 CE

Commonly accepted year when cacao plantations were established in the Brazilian state of Para.

1678 CE

Writing from Canton, China, to his minister provincial on March 5, Father Buenaventura Ibañez noted that he had requested a cargo of cacao to be sent from New Spain with all the accoutrements necessary to make chocolate as a present for the “king of Canton.” This is one of the rare sources where the intent is to give chocolate to the Chinese rather than keeping it among the missionaries.

1679 CE

The ship Triomphant arrives in the French port of Brest from Martinique with a cargo of cacao, marking the opening of official trade in cacao between France and the France Caribbean.

1680 CE

The word chocolate first appears in Pierre Richelet’s French dictionary.

1684 CE

François Foucault, in his dissertation An Chocolatae usus salubris? , argues for the medicinal benefits of chocolate.

1685 CE

Sylvestre Dufor identifies medicinal uses of chocolate. Traitez Nouveaux et Curieux du Café , du Thé et du Chocolat.

Henry Mundy publishes Opera Omnia Medico – Physica de Aere Vitali, Esculentis et Potulentis cum Appendice de Parergis in Victu et Chocolatu, Thea, Caffea, Tobacco.

1686 CE

King of Siam sends gift of nine chocolatières (chocolate pots) to King Louis XIV of France.

Father Buenaventura Ibañez, in a letter dated February 24 (written in China) refers to the use of chocolate as a pharmaceutical. He complains that he could eat neither meat nor chicken and only a little fish, and found, however, that a good bowl of chocolate in the mornings was helpful.

1687 CE

First mention of chocolate production in Bayonne, France.

Nicolas de Blégny identifies medicinal uses of chocolate: Le bon Usage de Thé , du Caffé , et du Chocolat pour la Preservation et pour la Guerison des Malades.

Sir Hans Sloane traveling in Jamaica records a native recipe that he brings back to Europe, the so – called Sloane Recipe.

1690 CE

Inquisition document (Mexico): declaration related to witchcraft. Denunciation of Simón Hernán, Spanish, 35 years old:

“During the religious office at the Nuestra Señora de la Merced in this Province of Mexico he [Sim ón] give some powders to a Spanish woman named Micaela, and he gave them to her mixed with chocolate. Eight days later and without telling anything to his wife, in another religious office, he gave her again those powders mixed with chocolate. He [Simón] declared that those powders were meant to seduce Micaela and in doing so be able to enjoy her favors, but that the powders had no effect on Micaela. “ This, he [Simón] declares as true and under oath. ”

Hans Sloane adds milk to chocolate to make it more palatable. First colonial newspaper published in Boston ( Publik  ccurrences ); article mentions smallpox epidemic in Boston.

1691 CE

François Massaliot’s Cuisinier Roial et Bourgeois, a guide to organizing meals for the French upper classes, offers recipes for Macreuse en rago û t au Chocolat , a savory poultry dish with a chocolate sauce, and Crême de Chocolat, using milk, sugar, and egg yolk, in addition to chocolate.

Bayonne non – Jewish chocolatiers gain passage of a municipal ordinance prohibiting Jews from selling chocolate within the city gates.

1693 CE

Chocolate served to a Turkish Aga in Smyrna (Izmir) by Gemelli Careri. 1693 to 1718 the Grimaldi and Lorefice familyies in Sicily recive chocolate from the Gesuit priest Pietro Eredia to Palermo.

1695 CE

Marcus Mappus publishes Dissertationes Medicae Tres de Receptis Hodie Etiam in Europa, Potus Calidi Generibus Thé e, Care, Chocolata.

James Lightbody publishes Every Man His Own Gauger and identifies how to make chocolate “ cakes ” and “ rowles. ”

1699 CE

Reported attempt to assassinate King Charles II of England with poisoned chocolate.

18th century

In the eigthteenth century in Italy, perfume-laden flavors were introduced into chocolate. Jasmine chocolate was a specialty at the court of Cosimo III, Grand Duke of Tuscany. He and wife Marguerite Louise d’Orleans loved to drink flavored chocolate. Other Tuscan ingredients added included musk, ambergris, citron, and lemon peel.

An anonymous commonplace book recipe from the 18th century:

“To Make Chocolate Almonds. Take your Sugar and beat it and Serch sift it then: great youre Chocolatt: take to 1 lb Sugar: 5 oz. Of Chocolatt mix well together put in 2 Spoonful Gundragon Soaked in rosewater and a grm musk and ambergrease and beat all well together in mortar. Rowl out and markwt: ye molds and lay on tin plates to dry turn everyday.”

Ellis Veryard, declared in his 1701 account of a visit to Spain: “The Spaniards are the only People in Europe to have the Reputation of making Chocolate to perfection”.

Italy followed Spain and Portugal in adopting the chocolate drink.

Chocolate was very popular at the French court, loved by the kings and queens, especially Louis XIV. Alphonse-Louis du Plessis de Richelieu, the Cardinal’s brother, argued that chocolate was useful to “moderate the vapours of the spleen”.

He assured people that he knew it worked, as he had tried it himself. He was also convinced that if someone wanted to overcome feelings of anger and bad temper, the answer was to just drink some chocolate. ( Levin Carole.)

1706 CE

(Dr.) Duncan publishes: Wholesome Advice Against the Abuse of Hot Liquors, Particularly of Coffee, Tea, Chocolate, etc.

1707 CE

Chocolate as a pharmaceutical appears frequently in the requests of the Franciscans priest and medical surgeon, Fr. Antonio de la Concepción, living in southern China. Letter, dated November 17, notes that the chocolate requested earlier, has not arrived.

1712 CE

Alexander Pope, in The Rape of the Lock , writes:

“In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow, and tremble at the sea that froaths below!”

1719 CE

De Chélus publishes Histoire Naturelle du Cacao et du Sucre.

1730 CE

The true dawn of the chocolate bar… Richard Brookes writes in the 2nd edition to The Natural History of Chocolate about eating chocolate in solid form rather than a liquid beverage:

“When a person is obliged to go from home, and cannot stay to have it made into a drink, he may eat an ounce of it, and drinking after it, leave the stomach to dissolve it.”

No doubt the pochteca, the pre-Columbian couriers of their day who delivered chocolate tablets or balls across the Mesoamerican continent on foot, probably consumed it likewise when in a pinch.

The story of cocoa and chocolate

Fry and Sons begin chocolate production in Bristol, England. Walter Churchman starts to manufacture chocolate in Bristol, England. He petitions king of England for patent and sole use of an invention for the:

“Expeditious, fine and clean making of chocolate by an engine.”

De Quelus identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

Dutch East India Company ship, Coxhoorn, leaves Canton and arrives in Amsterdam with 9457 Chinese chocolate cups and pots.
Richard Brookes comments that chocolate can be eaten in solid form early mention of chocolate consumed other than as a beverage.

Additional English patent issued to Walter Churchman for

“New invention of making chocolate without fire, to greater perfection, in all respects, than by the common method.”

1734 CE

A Nouvelle Instruction pour les confitures, les liqueurs, et les fruits, notes that chocolate can be made as a beverage, or in solid form for candies and biscuits.

1735 CE

Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) writes Systema naturae. He classifies the tree from which chocolate derives and baptizes it Theobroma cacao (theobroma, Greek for ‘God-food’)

1738 CE

F. E. Bruckman publishes Relatio de Cacao.

1739 CE

French explorers Pierre and Paul Mallet pack and carry a handmill and three chocolate cups during their expedition to Sante Fe (New Mexico).

1741 CE

Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

1746 CE

Simon Paulli writes treatise on chocolate, coffee, tea, and tobacco; argues for the rejection of these beverages as they cause effeminacy, impotency, and sterility.

Ciocolato di Modica or Ciocolato Modicano. Archival papers of the Genoese branch of the noble family Grimaldi [Archive Grimaldi (1521 -1882), kept in the Ragusa State Archive – Section of Modica.], who settled in Modica in the 16th century, document that in the capital of the ancient county as early as 1746, “cicolateri” , manipulated aromatic cooked cocoa. The specialty was introduced in the County of Modica by the Spaniards, during their domination in southern Italy.

The story of cocoa and chocolate
cioccolato di modica

1747 CE

R. Campbell publishes The London Tradesman , which contains the account:

“Chocolate is made of Cocoa, the Product of the West –Indies. It is stripped of its Shell, or rather Husk, and wrought upon a Stone over Charcoal Fire till it is equally mellow put into Moulds, which shapes it into Cakes. To perfume it they mix it Venello [i.e., vanilla]. It is a hot laborious Business, but does not require much Ingenuity. Journeyman’s Wages is from Twelve to Fifteen Shillings a Week, are not employed much in the Summer. They require Heat to work with, but cold Weather is necessary to dry it.”

Simon Lord Lovant requests and is served chocolate on the day of his execution.

Juan de la Mata publishes his cookbook, Arte de Reposteria, which contains various recipes for chocolate.

1749 CE

Letter written by Father Junipero Serra during his voyage from Cadiz, Spain, to Vera Cruz. Letter confirms that Serra brought chocolate with him on the voyage and he laments:

“There was not enough water [aboard] and rationing was introduced for all … nor could we drink chocolate we brought with us because there was not water to boil it with.”

1750 CE

Barbados account of French selling slaves for quantities of cocoa and coffee.

1756 CE

First chocolate factory established in Germany.

1757 CE

Forestero cacao introduced to Trinidad from Venezuela.

1758 CE

Inquisition document, Mexico: support for the banning of chocolate crucifixes and chocolate images of Mary.

1759 CE

Play opens in London entitled The Chocolate – Makers: or, Mimicry Exposed.

Several references to chocolate in Candide by Voltaire, where he will triangulate chocolate, women, and illicit sex more than once and usually in Italy.

In his satirical novel, Candide, or Optimism (Candide, ou l’Optimisme), chocolate and sex have a political relationship bound up with the excesses of a wanton nobility and the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. Pangloss explains syphilis as a necessary sacrifice to the pleasures brought about by chocolate and cochineal—insects used to make the rich red dye worn by royalty and clergy— which of course also came back to Europe following the conquest of the Caribbean and Mexico.
Pangloss says to Candide:

“For if Columbus, on an island off the Americas, had not contracted this disease-which poisons the source of all procreation, and often even prevents procreation, contrary though this be to nature’s great plan-we would have neither chocolate nor cochineal.”

In another satirical call-out to history, the well-documented role Mesoamerican women played in preparing and serving chocolate finds perverse expression in the figure of Paquette. Along with the many women in the genealogy, right back to the Mesoamerican woman who purportedly infected Columbus’s crew, Paquette serves up syphilis instead of chocolate.

1762 CE

Father Junipero Serra reported from Mexico that priests and Indians were suffering from local epidemics and lack of provisions; describes hardships and how they were sustained by chocolate and atole.

1763 CE

Report of cacao grown in the Philippines.

Encyclopedia of Diderot and d’ Alembert contains an illustration of a worker grinding chocolate.

1767 CE

Following appeals by local Jewish leaders, the Bordeaux parlement dissolves the Bayonne chocolate makers ’ guild, handing the Jews a victory in the Bayonne chocolate war.

1772 CE

Chocolate appears as a word in German texts used to teach grammar.

1774 CE

Year of commonly cited story that Pope Clement XIV was murdered by poisoned chocolate prepared by Jesuit priests.

1775 CE

Gen. George Washington regularly imbibes at Mt. Vernon and the State of Virginia makes chocolate a field ration for its continental troops during the War of Independence.

1776 C.E.

France, Doret invents a hydraulic process to grind cocoa beans into a paste, facilitating the first large-scale production of chocolate.
Joseph Fry predicts a vast export market for cacao if trade duties be favorably aligned:

“As it is certain that good and beautiful Chocolate cannot be made in warm Climates, and that abroad that English Chocolate is prefferr’d to most if not any other sort, doubtless very large Quantities would be exported to the East and West Indies and many other Places, if a suitable Drawback were to be allowed in Exportation.”

1778 CE

A Monsieur Doret is given an award for developing a machine to mix ground chocolate.

Voltaire writes that imported chocolate is among the items causing poverty in France.

1779 CE

Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, writes to his wife on May 16:

The sponge cake is not at all what I asked for:
1) I wanted it iced everywhere, both on top and underneath, with the same icing used on the little cookies;
2) I wanted it to be chocolate inside, of which it contains not the slightest hint; they have colored it with some sort of dark herb, but there is not what one could call the slightest suspicion of chocolate. The next time you send me a package, please have it made for me, and try to have some trustworthy person there to see for themselves that some chocolate is put inside. The cookies must smell of chocolate, as if one were biting into a chocolate bar.”

1780 CE

Completion of Diderot’ s Encyclopedia (containing images of chocolate production).

Hurricane destruction in Barbados and Martinique, destroying crops and cacao production.

1785 CE

Thomas Jefferson, the agrarian aristocrat, augurs hot cocoa as the All-American draft. In a letter to his rival John Adams dated November 27, Jefferson predicts it will eventually eclipse coffee in American preferences due to the: “superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment”.

Jacques Casanova includes many references to chocolate in his memoirs.

1784 CE

Adam Smith publishes An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations . Identifi es cacao – nuts among the:

“Enumerated commodities of two sorts: those produced in America, or not produced in the mother country.”

Hannah Glasse publishes The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy , with recipes for chocolate.

1789 CE

French Revolution ostensibly cleaves along the lines of coffee vs. cocoa – the coffee wins-out over palace lackeys and sycophants who took cocoa as a morning beverage after Camille Desmoulins plots the assault on the Bastille from Café Foy, Paris, July 13.

Daniel Defoe writes Robinson Crusoe; Crusoe salvages a chocolate pot from a wrecked ship.

Publication in London of the New Etiquette for Mourners .

A Husband Losing His Wife. Must weep, or seem to weep at the funeral. Should not appear at the chocolate – house the first week;
should vent a proper sigh whenever good wives, or even matrimony is mentioned. May take a mistress into keeping the third week, provided he had not one before. May appear with her in public at the end of the month; and as he probably may not chuse to marry again, he may, at the close of the second month, be allowed a couple of mistresses to solace him in his melan choly.”

1790 CE

Attempt to assassinate King Fredrick of Prussia by putting poison in his chocolate:

“From that period, Frederick, before he took his chocolate, always gave a little to his dogs.”

1791 CE

Marie Antoinette, hoping to flee the French Revolution with her family, orders a nécessaire de voyage: Portable case holding implements to make tea, coffee, and chocolate, to be made . Case contains a silver chocolati è re. This nécessaire de voyage and chocolatiére appear as inventory items 1794, a year after her execution.

All French guilds are dissolved; Jews granted legal citizenship, ending Bayonne chocolate guild controversy.

1792 CE

Jesuits evicted from Mexico caught smuggling gold into Spain; gold discovered and hidden inside “ globs ”of chocolate.

1793 CE

Report dated May 31, cautioning American manufacturers importing chocolate into India to be ethical in their trade dealings:

“If your chocolate, instead of being made of Cocoa, should be found to be little else but a greasy mixture, no one will touch it twice.”

1794 CE

Hugh Smith publishes An Essay on Foreign Teas, with Observations of Mineral Waters, Coffee, Chocolate, Etc .

Joseph Fry installs a steam engine in his chocolate manufactury in Bristol, England. Steam engines are used to grind cocoa beans making chocolate cheaper, as part of the Industrial Revolution

1796 CE

Antonio Lavadan identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

Thomas Hayes recommends chocolate in the diet of asthmatic patients.

John Hunter, physician, describes how he bled a pregnant patient who had eaten only dry toast with a cup of chocolate for breakfast, and found the blood “inflamed. ”

1797 CE

Erasmus Darwin suffers gout; treats himself with a diet that contains chocolate.

19th century

Early 1800s – advent of the chocolate Easter egg in Germany and France.

Sulpice Debauve, a pharmacist, establishes a chocolate shop in Paris.
In 1827, his nephew, Antoine Gallais, also a pharmacist, joins him and the shop is known as Debauve and Gallais. It still exists as a center for fine chocolate in Paris.

Jeanne Dunatte opens a chocolate shop in Ustaritz, near Bayonne; possibly France’s the first female chocolate maker.

Parmentier publishes On the Composition and Use of Chocolate.

1807 CE

Widely circulated English propaganda report that Pauline Riotti, a former mistress servant of Napoleon Bonaparte, attempted to murder him by putting poison in his chocolate (apocryphal).

1808 CE

Importation of slaves into United States forbidden.
Announcement that Bayonne, France, is famous for hams, chocolate, and bayonets.

Account of chocolate purchased for patients at the San Lorenzo Hospital, Mexico:

“750 pesos have been paid to Felipe de Mendoza for 120 arrobas of chocolate to be given to the sick.”

1 arroba = 25 pounds, therefore, quantity identified as 3000 pounds.

1810 CE

Coronation dinner for King Louis XV of France includes 1500 pounds of chocolate.

1815 CE

Caspar van Houten builds a chocolate mill in Amsterdam, Holland.

1817 CE

J. – J. Machet writes Le Confiseur Moderne, ou l’ Art du Confiseur et du Distillateur and identifies “ Chinese chocolate. ”

1819 CE

Commonly accepted date for first transportation of live cocoa trees from Brazil to São Tomé and Príncipe in Portuguese Africa.

François – Louis Cailler opens first Swiss chocolate factory at Corsier.

1821 CE

English poet, George Gordon Byron writes of the exploits of Don Juan and mentions chocolate.

1822 CE

English merchants prohibited to export chocolate to Russia.

1824 CE

John Cadbury, a young Quaker, announces on March 1st the opening of a shop in Bull Street in Birmingham in the Birmingham Gazette :

“John Cadbury is desirous of introducing to particular notice ‘ Cocoa Nibs ’ , prepared by himself, an article affording a most nutritious beverage for breakfast.”

Philippe Suchard opens chocolate actory in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

1825 CE

Jean – Antoine Brutus Menier begins producing chocolate at Noisel, Switzerland.

Anthelme Brillat – Savarin identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

1826 CE

Philippe Suchard establishes his chocolate factory in Serrieres, Switzerland.

Earliest advertisement for chocolate candy in England (Fry’ s chocolate lozenges).

1827 CE

Antoine Gallais publishes his Monographie du Cacao , ou Manuel de l’ Amateur de Chocolat in Paris. He writes that the Chinese take much chocolate but as their cacao arrive in paste (form), without spices, they have, in tin or porcelain boxes , a powder composed of vanilla, cinnamon, and ambergris.

1828 C.E.

Holland, Chemist Caspar van Houten invents a process for extracting cocoa butter, allowing for the extraction of cocoa powder. This makes chocolate more homogenous and less costly to produce. Patent entitled:

“Method for pressing the fat from cocoa beans.”

Van Houten’s promoted the cocoa powder: “For the rich and poor – made instantly – easier than tea”

Cacao spread rapidly across Europe, but it remained exclusively a beverage for over 3,000 years until 1828. The Cocoa Press provided a method for separating out the cocoa butter leaving what is called “cocoa cake,” which could be pulverized into a substance we now know as cocoa powder.

Van Houten, also invented the process of treating cocoa mass with alkaline to remove bitterness, mellow the taste and improve its ability to blend; the resulting product was and is still called “Dutch Process Chocolate” or “Dutched Cocoa”.

With the cocoa press and Dutching process, Van Houten went on to become the father of “Eating Chocolate” which was a method that also made chocolate more affordable for everyone to enjoy.

Thomas Graham identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

1830 CE

Charles – Amadé e Kohler makes noisettes au chocolat (chocolate with nuts) in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Chocolate production at Lynn, Massachusetts, reaches 60 tons/year.

Goethe makes a cult of cacao:

“Impossible to develop taste from what’s of mediocre quality; it can only be achieved from the very best… Act in the highest spirit.”

1831 CE

John Cadbury starts to manufacture drinking chocolate and cocoa.

José Antonio Alzate describes cocoa production in Mexico:

“Two main harvests each year. One on Christmas Eve, called the Christmas harvest, and the other on [the Feast Day of] San Juan.”

1841 CE

Woskresensky identifies theobromine in cacao beans.

1846 CE

Auguste Saint – Arroman identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

1847 CE

England, commonly accepted year when Joseph Fry and Sons prepared first chocolate candy bar by mixing melted cacao butter back into defatted cocoa powder; This could be pressed into a mold. Solid chocolate is offered to the general public for the first time, prior to this time, solid chocolate was available exclusively within royal courts.

The story of cocoa and chocolate

1848 CE

Poulain Chocolate Company created at Blois, France

1849 CE

Aboard ship — going around the Horn to California — Enos Christman writes:

“Today I stood nearly an hour in the rain and cold until my fingers were quite benumbed, holding a tin cup to catch water as it dripped off one of the small [life] boars. This was free from salt and made a good cup of chocolate.”

Daily schedule of Pope Pius IX (after 8:30 a.m.): “The Pope dips biscuits in a mixture of coffee and chocolate” and begins his daily business affairs.

Cadbury introduces a line of milk chocolate prepared after the “Sloane Recipe ” (after Hans Sloane’ s recipe of 1687).

1850 CE

Max Sefelege, native of Potsdam, confined in the insane asylum at Spandau. He pretended, for some time past, that he was the inventor of chocolate.

1852 CE

William Brady, author of The Kedge – Anchor, or Young Sailor’s Assistant , writes that it was the responsibility – when

taking to the boats, i.e., abandoning ship, that the Cook/Steward be responsible for carrying into the lifeboat the following items: tinder – box, flints and tinder, a lantern and candles, cheese, cabin biscuits, and chocolate.

1855 CE

Patent developed in England for medicinal gluten chocolate: two parts cocoa, two parts sugar, one part gluten – bread reduced to a fine powder.

1857 CE

Traditional date for the introduction of cacao trees into Ghana.

1858 CE

A. Mitscherlich publishes Der Kakao und die Schokolade.

1860 CE

A. Gosselin publishes Manuel des Chocolatiers.

1861 CE

A. Mangin publishes Le Cacao et la Chocolat.

1864 CE

Auguste Debay identifies medicinal uses of chocolate.

1865 CE

Gianduia: myth-making surrounds Michele Prochet combinating cocoa and toasted “Tonda Gentile delle Langhe” hazelnuts.

The Broma Process happened upon by Domingo Ghirardelli, in which hanging a bag of chocolate in a warm room caused cacáo butter to drip out, extracting it at such an extremely slow rate that it’s rarely if ever used on any industrial scale.

Abraham Lincoln assassinated on Good Friday, while attending the theater. Mexican proverb: “Beware of tasting Chiapa[s] chocolate.”

Article in Harper’s Weekly repeats oft – told story of how the Bishop of Chiapa[s] was poisoned by angry ladies of the region.

1868 CE

The “chocolate box”, Richard Cadbury, also the culprit of the heart-shaped box for Valentine’s Day.


“What’s the best part of Valentine’s Day?
The day after when all the chocolate goes on sale.”

1871 CE 

Announcement that, in the neighborhood of Bingen on the Rhine, adulteration of chocolate was being carried out.

Siege of Paris on the105th day, Ebenezer Washburne reports:

“No change in the price of coffee, chocolate, wine, liqueurs.”

Deranged English woman arrested for lacing chocolate with poison, and lefting children eat it.

1873 CE

Alexandre Dumas’ s Grand dictionnaire de cuisine refers to Chinese chocolate.

Alfred Wanklyn publishes A Practical Treatise on the Analysis of Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Chocolate.

1876 CE

The story of cocoa and chocolate

Milk Chocolate by Daniel Peter of Vevey, Switzerland mixing “pale cocoa” (still the best for milk, though most makers use regular cocoa requiring more milk) with Henri Nestlé’s condensed powdered milk.

Rudolph Lindt, inventor of the conching machine opens a factory which produces a smoother sensory experience for that modern standard of refined chocolate. The luscious molten meltdown discovered by accident when his assistant left it running all night.

TIMELINE: A story of cacao/cocoa and chocolate
conching machine.

Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé form partnership.

1880 CE

Cioccolato di Modica, Francesco Bonajuto, established a well-known pastry shop in Modica, the beans are manually processed and ground in a traditional stone bowl called a metate. This choclate bar is today an Italian P.G.I. specialty chocolate, typical of the municipality of Modica in Sicily. The ancient and original recipe using manual grinding ,rather than conching, gives the chocolate a peculiar grainy texture and aromatic flavor. The only flavourings used are cinnamon and vanilla.

Switzerland, Chocolate flavored with hazelnuts is followed by milk chocolate, developed by Daniel Peter and Henri Nestlé respectively. During the same period, Rodolphe Lindt develops the chocolate fondant (fondu).

Successful introduction of cacao onto the African mainland: Gold Coast (Ghana).

The Brownie, a cross between a cookie and a cake, can be traced back at least to an unnamed chef at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, who, at the request of the owners’s wife – a Mrs. Bertha Potter Palmer – asked for a “Ladies Dessert” that would be edible without besmirching her white-gloved fingers.

1886 CE

The Debauve et Gallais Company of France sells pistoles (chocolate chips) and chocolate bars on the Nanjing Lu Road in Shanghai.

1889 CE

Freia, Norwegian chocolate company, founded.

1890 CE

The “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws,” is an egg-laying hare from Germanic folklore that would leave behind colorful chicken or duck eggs for children who laid out a nest for the mythical being. The chocolate Easter Bunny seems to have been invented by people of German heritage, either in Germany or America, sometime around the 19th century.

Many believe (although it’s certainly not settled) that the name Easter is derived from Germanic goddess of spring and fertility, Eostra. In support, they point to one potential origin story of the Easter Bunny from early German myths, where, after a little girl prayed to Eostra for help saving a dying bird, the goddess transformed it into a hare; moreover, she promised it would return each year bringing rainbow colored eggs.

Rabbits (originally hares) are longstanding fertility symbols associated with the arrival of spring, because they are so prolific and give birth as soon as the weather warms.

In Germany, edible, pastry and sugar bunnies, sometimes with a hard boiled egg placed in its stomach, were being made. Some type of edible bunnies were also being produced in America.

Moving on to the chocolate variety of bunnies, it’s not clear who made them first, other than it was probably someone of German descent in America. Tins for chocolate molds dating to 1890 can be found today in Munich, but at the same time, Pennsylvania’s Robert L. Strohecker made a 5-foot-tall chocolate rabbit that he placed as an Easter promotion in his drugstore.

“The legend says that the hare is actually a wrongly seen lamb with too long ears,”

knows Klaus Schopen from the Cologne Chocolate Museum.

1892 CE

Historicus (Richard Cadbury) publishes Cocoa: All About it.

Clémentine and Auguste Rouzaud begin making fine chocolates in Royat (France).

1895 CE

Greek advertisements for Loukoumia Sokolatas (chocolate cookies).

1893 CE

United States, Sweet maker Milton Hershey spots chocolate making equipment at the Worlds Fair in Chicago and begins production at a factory in Pennsylvania.

1898 CE

Ganache, Bernard Serardy, Moulin, France.

20th century


Cacao planted in the Côte d’ Ivoire.

Cadbury Dairy Milk bar launched.


Cadbury introduces Bournville alkalized cocoa powder.


PeruginaBaci’ (kisses).

Hershey’s Kiss.


Toblerone — Theodore Tobler develops triangular nougat – filled chocolate bar.


Chocolate pudding served at a banquet on the Greek island of Samos to honor a visit by the Admiral of the Austrian Navy.

William Cadbury urged several English and American companies to join him in refusing to buy cacao beans from plantations with poor labor conditions.


Ronald Amundsen reaches the South Pole, with chocolate among supplies carried.

Scott and his team of Antarctic explorers celebrate their Christmas meal, which includes chocolate.

Mars Company, America Tacoma, WA.

1912 -13

Birth of the Belgian praline: Jean Neuhaus fills chocolate shells with cream, infused ganche, nut pastes, or other fillings; and his wife creates ballotin boxes of these treasures.

Jules Suchard invents filled chocolate bonbon.


Theodore Roosevelt treks through the Brazilian wilderness carrying 26 foods, among his supplies sweet hocolate (16 ounces served each Wednesday to men).


Advent of the Milk Way bar


Valrhona Chocolate established in Tain L’ Hermitage near Lyon.


Greek physicians recommend chocolate served to tuberculosis patient: “Breakfast milk, plain or with chocolate, or with cocoa, jam, two eggs, butter and bread.”


Jose Rafael Zozaya and Carmelo Tuozzo develop El Rey chocolate company in Venezuela. Local production instead of shipping its beans to Europe or North America for refining.


Cocoa Research Unit established at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad which, in conjunction with the Int’l Cocoa Genebank, forms part of the University of the West Indies.

White Chocolate called Galak introduced by Nestlé’s. Nestle are the first chocolate company in the world to produce white chocolate bar, by excluding the cocoa mass from the chocolate coverture and increasing the amount of milk powder and sugar. It’s called ‘Galak’ and it’s still sold by the Nestle company to this day.
Snickers go on sale.

Ruth Wakefield invents chocolate chip cookies after running out of baking chocolate. Originally, the chopped up improvised Nestle chocolate bar was supposed to blend into the mixture, rather than standing out and being visible.


Kit Kat introduced by Nestlé’s.


Maltesers and Blue Riband go on sale. Dairy Box and Quality Street also go on sale.

1937 -38

Amazon Jungle Expedition by FJ Pound in search of disease-resistant cacao trees.

It it’s not clear when exactly hollow easter bunny’s origins. However, we do know that hollow chocolate bunny molds existed by 1939. It’s easy to assume that chocolate manufacturers make their bunnies with hollow centers as a cost-cutting measure. And while a hollow bunny will indeed include less chocolate than a solid one, there’s actually another reason behind hollow chocolate bunnies.

“If you had a larger-size bunny and it was solid chocolate, it would be like a brick; you’d be breaking teeth,”

Mark Schlott, vice-president of operations at R.M. Palmer in Reading, Pennsylvania, told Smithsonian Magazine in 2010. This type of chocolate bunny would certainly have appealed to the wartime rationing of World War II, which for a time even saw the chocolate bunny disappear from the shelves completely…


Supercrema gianduia in Alba, Italy by Pietro Ferrero who did a “smearing” on bread for kids; morphs into Nutella in 1964.


M&Ms named after Forrest Mars and R. Bruce Murrie, son of former Hershey’s president William Murrie, shell-shock American soldiers.
Inspired by lentil-shaped chocolates protected by a hard sugar-glazed shell eaten in the Spanish Civil War:

“So it melts in your mouth… not in your hands”.

And because they never satiate like real chocolate, M&Ms™ provoke a feeding frenzy where humans graze out on ’em all day long. Millions per hour rumble off the Mars’ assembly lines, exclusively earmarked for the U.S. military, immunizing American GIs to the shell-shocks of WWII.


Groundbreaking work by EE Chessman on cacáo classification to help solve its origin and relationships puzzle; prophesied the center of origin, later confirmed, at the confluence of the rivers Napo, Caquetá, and Putumayo leading to the Amazon River, in the cross-border area of present-day Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador.


Melts in your pants, not in your hands:
British scientists Randall & Boot investigate properties of a vacuum cavity based on designs of German engineer Hans Hollman. Called the Magnatron, this tube converts high voltage electrical energy into microwave radiation for higher frequency signals that can bounce off objects, creating a shadow, making them “visible” to detection.
In a word: radar. Perfect for spotting even the periscope of Nazi U-boat submarines prowling England’s shores. Due to budgetary constraints, British intelligence hands over the technology to the Americans.

Percy LaBaron Spencer of Raytheon Corp USA, standing near a Magnatron with a chocolate bar in his pocket, feels it melt in his pants… the accidental discovery of the microwave oven.

Worldwar I 1914-1918 and II 1939- 45

Xmas Eve 1914 – chronicled in Stanley Weintraub’s German and British troops declare a de facto cease-fire to exchange carols and chocolate during the ‘Christmas Truce’, during WWI, Ypres Belgium.
Chocolate followed the French and American infantry into the trenches of the First World War, and effectively all US chocolate production was requisitioned for the military during the Second World War.

In France, chocolate sweets appeared between the wars, and French pralines (chocolates filled with almond and other nut based fillings) were considered the most fashionable. This inspired chocolate producers to experiment with new flavors, such as almond paste, cherries in aqua vitae, nougat, caramel…

1941 -1945: US military servicemen issued with three, four-ounce chocolate bars, containing around 600 calories per bar.

1948 -49

The Candy Bomber in Operation Little Vittles: The first chill in the 40-year ‘Cold War’ – During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies’ railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Western control. Western Allies respond to the emergency by airlifting food and provisions to the citizens of Berlin.

Douglas C-54 Skymaster landing at Berlin Tempelhof Airport, 1948

The pilot – USAF Col. Gail Halverson – drops chocolate bars attached to handkerchief parachutes out of his C-47 cockpit for kids waiting trapped in the city below. Because planes arrive every 90 seconds, they’ve no idea which one is his, so Col. Halverson signals them by ‘wiggling his wings’, or rocking the aircraft. For every day thereafter their numbers increase until a quarter million mini-parachutes “bomb” the entire city.

Germans affectionately nickname the candy-bomber ‘Onkel Wackelflügel’ (Uncle Wiggly Wings), pitting him against dreaded Soviet dictator ‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin.

Hoping to avoid the scramble with other kids at the airport, Peter Zimmerman asked the pilot to aim the chocolate right in his backyard. He wrote this letter guide to Col. Halverson:

“Fly along the big canal… at the second bridge turn right. I live in the bombed out house on the corner. I’ll be in the backyard everyday at 2PM. Drop it there”.

When his chocolate failed to arrive, he wrote again,

“You are a pilot? I gave you a map? How did you guys win the war anyway?”


Bounty goes on sale.


The first ‘Goldhase’ – gold hare from Lindt&Sprüngli, Germany,  was sold. Legend has it, that the daughter of the Chocolatiers fell in love with a hare she saw in the garden. The chocolate bunny was packed in golden foil.


The Anglo-Colombian Cacao Collecting Expedition conducts an important survey of a wild region, mainly within Colombia’s borders, that exhibits great diversity.

Basil Bartley, among the last of the great explorers, sets-off on a half-century trek thru the Amazon Rainforest researching Theobroma cacao.


Chocolate on the Roof of the World– Sherpa mountaineer Tenzig Norgay climbs with Sir Edmond Hillary on the first known ascent of Mt. Everest where he leaves behind a ceremonial chocolate offering… never, presumably, to melt at this the highest altitude on Earth. If the Yeti did not take a snack.

Maurice Bernachon, Lyon France; the prototype for chocolate micro-processors.

René Millon’s dissertation at Columbia University, When Money Grew on Trees, anticipates the revival in cacao scholarship by decades.


Hitchcock’s Psycho: chocolate simulates blood in the famous shower scene featuring Janet Leigh, hearkening back to Mesoamerican Toxcatl Festivals, human sacrifice, and symbolic notions of ‘Hearts ‘n Blood’.


After Eight goes on sale.


Raider, later Twix goes on sale.


Leonardo Sciascia writes about Cioccolato di Modica in “La contea di Modica“. The famous Sicilian author could argue, without fear of contradiction, that tasting Modica’s chocolate meant “going to the archetype”, to the absolute, mediating, and we are in 1983, the kinship between the alicantino (Spanish) chocolate and the one of Modica.

“It has an incomparable taste, because when you taste it you have the impression to have reached the absolute, and any other kind of chocolate, even the most renowned – looks like its adulteration, its corruption”


Valrhona’s release of Guanaja – and introduces the concept of the single origin chocolate bar, making their first with beans exclusively from South America. The 70% cacao bar is named Guanaja in honor of the island of Guanaja, off Honduras, where Christopher Columbus first tasted chocolate almost 500 years earlier. They call it a Grand Cru chocolate.


Chocolate bars among the menu items served aboard the USSR Mir space station.


Divine, a fair trade chocolate bar, launched in England by Day Chocolate.


There has been disagreement in the EU about the definition of chocolate; this dispute covers several ingredients, including the types of fat used and the quantity of cocoa. In 1999, however, the EU resolved the fat issue by allowing up to 5% of chocolate’s content to be one of 5 alternatives to cocoa butter: illipe oil, palm oil, sal, shea butter, kokum gurgi, or mango kernel oil.

A recent workaround has been to reduce the amount of cocoa butter in candy bars without using vegetable fats by adding polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR), which is an artificial castor oil-derived emulsifier that simulates the mouthfeel of fat. Up to 0.3% PGPR may be added to chocolate for this purpose. Manufacturers have an incentive to use the name for chocolate for variations that are cheaper to produce, containing less cocoa and more cocoa substitutes.

21th century


Chuao becomes 1st cacao-growing region to be legally protected as a producer of named-origin beans or R.O.C. (Region of Origin Certified). It is a small village in the northern coastal valley of Venezuela.

The Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s largest exporter of cacao beans, 1.4 million tons.

The Netherlands both imports and grinds the most cacao. Some is made into chocolates; the remainder is processed into couverture and cocoa powder and exported to other countries which make their own chocolates from it.

Freia, Norwegian chocolate company, founded.


A chocolate – scented mousetrap has been developed by U.K. scientists to catch the pests without the need for bait.


China’ s first Salon du Chocolat, an international exposition of fine chocolates, is held in Beijing.


In March 2007, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, whose members include Hershey’s, Nestlé, and Archer Daniels Midland, began lobbying the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the legal definition of chocolate to allow the substitution of “safe and suitable vegetable fats and oils” (including partially hydrogenated vegetable oils) for cocoa butter in addition to using “any sweetening agent” (including artificial sweeteners) and milk substitutes. Currently, the FDA does not allow a product to be referred to as “chocolate” if the product contains any of these ingredients. To work around this restriction, products with cocoa substitutes are often branded or labeled as “chocolatey” or “made with chocolate”.

British report that eating chocolate causes human heart rate to rise faster than kissing loved one.


Mapping the cacao genome (approximately 400 million base pairs) accelerates Dr. Juan Carlos Motamayor reclassifies cacao’s taxonomy from a crude scheme of Forastero, Criollo, Trintiario to a refined system inclusive of manifold subclusters that more accurately delineate its broader genetic diversity.

TIMELINE: A story of cacao/cocoa and chocolate
Cacao Genetic Clusters.


What’s Ancient Becomes Modern Again: Marañón Canyon Cacao recovers — and geneticists confirm — what La Condamine in 1745, Pound in 1938 and Bartley in 2005 had all previously documented, namely, “Ecuador Arriba Nacional” growing at its possible source of origin… in Peru!

2010 -11

The Lab Science of Chocolate: Theobroma cacao Genome Sequence for Criollo assembled by a consortium representing CIRAD, CEPLAC, Penn State University, et al., that includes, among others, Mark Guiltinan, Siela Maximova and Claire Lanuad.

Mars releases a corresponding sequence for the Amazon variety.


The Heirloom Cacao Preservation initiative (HCP), a public-private collaboration between the Fine Chocolate Industry Association and the USDA, designate the first-ever such cacaos on February 11 in NYC — 2 from Bolivia (Heirlooms I & II), 1 from Ecuador (Heirloom III) and, surprise, Hawai’i (Heirloom IV) — amidst a growing concern that chocolate is endangered because it’s tasting more and more like wax these days.

Great chocolate starts with the finer Theobroma cacao trees. But those trees are poised for extinction. They’re being crowded out by the vast majority of other cacao trees – 95% — which are bland, bulk-grade. As this bulk continues to encroach on the other 5% — prized as fine-flavored — at an alarming rate, a world of boring chocolate awaits.
Gary Guittard, President of the Guittard Chocolate Company:

“The pioneering work of the HCP is an important tool in the global effort to promote sustainability”.

2014 -19

The newest innovation in 78 years—since white chocolate—is introduced to consumers. It is ruby chocolate, a pink chocolate made with a particular variety of cacao bean that results in the pink color. Developed by Callebaut.


“What been loves chocolate?
A cocoa-been.

The extent of History of COCOA & CHOCOLATE is hardly to be seized here, there is still much more to discover.


Spider graph roughly delineating Flavor Profiles by origin, from Stacy Reed, Cargill Atlas.

Controversies surround genetically modified organisms on several levels, including:

  • ethics,
  • environmental impact,
  • food safety,
  • product labeling,
  • role in meeting world food requirements,
  • intellectual property, and
  • role in industrial agriculture.

Right before the dawn of the 21st century, Figueira studied the effects of genetics vs. environment, comparing Brazil to Malaysia, concluding that genetics contribute to chocolate flavor more than characteristics rooted in terra… a chocolate version of the ‘nature vs. nurture’ argument.

And while ‘genetic drift’ continues, there remain enough of what insiders term ‘genotypic and consequently organoleptic distinctions’ to identify one strain from another.

In other words, you can still taste the difference.
FAO Infographic chocolate.

Many have become increasingly aware that the globalization-drive to consolidate agro-food has left them with less freedom of product choice, exposed them to health hazards, and made them unwitting accomplices in a process of rural impoverishment.

This could be reversed, in theory, by engaging shoppers to buy goods that embody superior values.

Alternative trade hopes to maximize those values at both ends of the commodity chain in a system that rewards consumers (with guilt-free, value- added goods) & producers (paid premiums over the market price).

These networks bypass highly-controlled commodity chains via market-based tools to challenge the industrialized food giants. The global community benefits because alternative trade actors become stewards of non-transactional public assets (such as ecosystem conservation).

(Cristian Melo’s PhD dissertation – Left Behind: A Farmer’s Fate in the Age of Sustainable Development.)

A new generation of chocolatiers knows no bounds.

The fusion cuisine of the 21th century has logically found its way to chocolate: exotic spices such as saffron, curry and lemongrass are now commonplace in chocolate, as are everyday kitchen foods such as basil, goat cheese and olive oil.

Most appropriately, chocolate has returned to its Mesoamerican roots. Many artisan chocolatiers now offer some version of “Aztec” chocolate, spiced with the original “new world” flavors of chili.

The market has seen growth in organic and kosher brands and high percentage cacao chocolate is recognized as a functional food, delivering antioxidants.

Many consider chocolate to be comforting, versatile and a treat to consume, and although there is no biological explanation for people’s affinity for chocolate, studies support the claim that chocolate is healthy, and while some of these suggestions are supported by research, others might be widely accepted but unproven.

Just as chocolate makers manufactured the association between romantic love and chocolate, they also created a connection between children and chocolate.

Marketing chocolate towards children helped them grow to love it, and cemented the role of chocolate as a marker of celebrations and holidays. Such are Valentines Day, Easter, Christmas and Halloween…

The folkloristic notion that chocolate has aphrodisiac properties has been revived over and over again. Today, this has centered on one of chocolate’s many chemical compounds, phenylethylamine, a mood-altering chemical said to be released into the brain when one is in love; although it has never been proved to stimulate sexual desire and performance, let us hope that this will be the case, and thus lower the demand for tiger penis, rhinoceros horn and the like!

While we enjoy a nice hot chocolate on a cold day, chocolate consumption is now favored as an edible treat rather than it’s traditional liquid form.

Some also use cocoa butter proucts for skin- and haircare, because it is rich in polyphenols and other bio active compounds that makes it a prized ingredient in beauty formulations.There isn’t much proof that it does improve skin’s appearance.

There’s hardly a cooler thing than cacáo.”

Don Beto, ah k’in (godfather), Ch’orti’ Mayan, Quetzaltepeque Guatemala; on sacred symbolism and profane properties of cacao.
A story of cocoa and chocolate
A cocoa farmer shows off her produce. USAIDs-Development Credit Authority CC -BY-SA 2.0.

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Keep exploring:

Works Cited & Multimedia Sources
  • A concise history of chocolate. AMAZING WEBSITE, THANK YOU.
  • Anonymous, The Vertues of Chocolate East-India Drink, one page. This apparently was taken out of Antonio Colminero, Chocolate: Or, An Indian Drink, translated into English by James Wadsworth (London, 1652).
  • Coe Michael D. Coe Sophie Dobzhansky. The true history of chocolate.
  • Fao infographik
  • Grivetti Louis E., Shapiro Howard-Yana. Chocolate – History, Culture, Heritage.
  • Kaufman Terrence. Justeson John. The History of the word for cacao in ancient Mesoamerica. 2008.
  • Levin Carole. How Sweet It Is: From the Mountains of Mexico to the Streets of York. Torch Magazine. 2018.
  • The Vertues of Chocolate East-India Drink. Oxford: Henry Hall. 1660.