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  • Anne Hartley

Hot Chocolate

Hello everyone, hope you had a great Thanksgiving and getting ready for Christmas. On warm days we can still get out and go for a ride on our bikes, but on cold days and nights it is fun to go for a drive to see Family and friends or look at all the decorations. Since it is December I thought a little history would be nice. Hot chocolate is a nice holiday drink but where did it come from?

We all know hot chocolate as the warm, rich drink we enjoy on a cold night by the fire, or after engaging in winter activities such as ice skating and skiing. But have you ever thought about where this delicious beverage came from? Hot chocolate's history goes quite a way back, and the drink has changed over the years, evolving from cold and spicy to warm and sweet.

Hot chocolate is a delicious drink enjoyed by people of all ages around the world. Though its exact origins are unknown, it is thought to have been first created by the ancient Maya people of Central America, as early as 500 BC, the Mayans were drinking chocolate made from ground-up cocoa seeds mixed with water, cornmeal, and chili peppers as well as other ingredients, a much different version from the hot chocolate we know today. They would mix the drink by pouring it back and forth from a cup to a pot until a thick foam developed, and then enjoy the beverage cold. Although the chocolate drink was available to all classes of people, the wealthy would drink it from large vessels with spouts, which later would be buried along with them.

Then Made its Way to Europe, in the early 1500s, the explorer Cortez brought cocoa beans and the chocolate drink-making tools to Europe. Although the drink still remained cold and bitter tasting, it gained popularity and was adopted by the court of King Charles V as well as the Spanish upper class. After its introduction in Spain, the drink began to be served hot, sweetened, and without the chili peppers. The Spanish were very protective of their wonderful new beverage, and it was over a hundred years before news of it began to spread across Europe.

When it hit London in the 1700s, chocolate houses similar to today's coffee shops became popular and very trendy, even though chocolate was very expensive. In the late 1700s, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, Hans Sloane, brought from Jamaica a recipe for mixing chocolate with milk, which made the drink more palatable in his opinion. Well, others agreed, and the English started adding milk to their chocolate; it was then enjoyed as an after-dinner beverage.

Hot Chocolate Today, up until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used as a treatment for stomach and liver diseases as well as a special drink. Today, however, we simply treat this warm concoction as a beverage to sip and savor. In America, hot chocolate is somewhat thin and often made by combining hot water with packets of powder, although you can find more authentic and gourmet varieties in restaurants and cafes. Other countries have their own versions—Spain's thick chocolate a la taza, spiced chocolate para mesa from Latin America, and Italy's cioccolata calda, which is very thick. Hot chocolate has become so popular in the United States that it is available in coffee vending machines. The powder is sold in packets and canisters, and coffee houses often have rich, somewhat thicker varieties on their menus.

The Evolution of Chocolate, it wasn't until the middle of the 18th century that chocolate began to evolve past its drinkable form. First, cocoa powder was invented in Holland, where the Dutch controlled nearly the entire cocoa bean trade. Since the cocoa powder blends much easier with milk or water, it allowed for more creations to come. Next came chocolate as a candy by mixing cocoa butter with sugar and in 1876, milk chocolate was developed. From then on, chocolate has become more popular as a solid treat rather than as the drink it started from.

The Difference Between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa. In England, hot chocolate is referred to as hot cocoa, whereas hot cocoa is more commonly referred to as hot chocolate in the United States. Although both terms are correct, hot chocolate is more commonly found in the United Kingdom. Hot cocoa is also known as hot chocolate in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. What is the difference between ‘hot chocolate’ and ‘hot cocoa’? Hot chocolate is made from a melted chocolate base, whereas hot cocoa is made with a powdered chocolate base and flavorings.



Local Events:

1. Speedway In Lights Nov. 18th to Jan. 7th

2. Holiday Market 8am Pavilion Founder’s Park Dec. 10th

3. Elizabethton Christmas Parade 6pm Dec. 10th

Useless Facts about Hot Chocolate/Chocolate:

1. It Dates Back Thousands Of Years.

2. It Wasn’t Always Hot—Or Sweet.

3. It Was Believed To Have Medicinal Properties.

4. It Was The Source Of Religious Controversy.

5. It Was Served In Fancy Pitchers.

6. Revolutionary War Soldiers Had It In Their Rations.

7. Thomas Jefferson Was A Big Fan.

8. There’s A Difference Between Hot Chocolate And Hot Cocoa.

9. It Fueled Polar Explorers.

10. The Ymca Served Up Hot Cocoa To Wwi Soldiers.

11. It Has Some Surprising Health Benefits.

12. Restaurants Have Gone Gourmet (And Boozy) With It.

13. The Largest Cup Ever Made Was 880 Gallons.

14. Chocolate can cause headaches and is not recommended in large doses for people who suffer from migraines or chronic headaches.

15. The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which trigger relaxation.

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