Chocolate: The Gateway Drug to Coffee and Tea

Did you know that chocolate was the first stimulant beverage used in Europe?  According to Marcy Norton, it predates coffee and tea.  Norton wrote Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World. I don’t drink coffee, but I LOVE my chocolate – in drinks or candy bars.  Unlike coffee or tea, it gives me a little energy boost without the jitters!

The earliest records of cacao used in drinks or food was 5,500 years ago in Ecuador. Cacao beans were used as currency in Mexico until 1737.  A turkey would cost 100 cacao beans.  Delicious chocolate drinks were enjoyed by merchants, warriors, and nobility in the 14th century in Central and South America. After the Spanish colonized Mexico in the 16th century, Cortes took this concoction back to Europe, and the chocolate industry flourished.

Who knew that chocolate was such a huge commodity?  Today, chocolatier Jacques Torres opened The Chocolate Museum and Experience, a museum dedicated to the history of chocolate in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood.  Guess where I’m going next time I visit New York City?