The Spanish first discovered cocoa beans during voyages to the New World.  English Privateers (AKA Pirates) – under authorization from Queen Elizabeth I – soon discovered this as well by looting of the Spanish ships. While the Aztecs had prized the cocoa that grew on their lands higher than gold – even using cocoa beans as currency – the strange and bitter new seeds held no appeal for the Englishmen. It is said that one crew even went as far as burning a shipload of cacao after mistaking the beans for sheep droppings.

Cocoa imports were eventually successful, leading a new chocolate culture to take hold in Europe. While 1657 marks the sale of the first recorded chocolate drink in London, purchased from a shop named The Coffee Mill & Tobacco Roll, cocoa powder also began to be used as a baking ingredient during the same period. Over the next 10 years, an array of supposed health benefits sprung up around chocolate-based drinks, with pamphlets boasting their ability to do everything from improve fertility and cure consumption to even reversing the aging process. Renowned diarist Samuel Pepys went one further, claiming it as a sure-fire hangover cure, though many still held to the Aztec’s long-held belief that chocolate could be used as a powerful aphrodisiac.

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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