Chocolate Talk Bits and Nips

I attended a talk on the history of chocolate at the historic Dumbarton House in D.C. The speaker, Joyce White, managed to cover a broad swath of history in 90 minutes with plenty of interesting facts. Here are a handful with a few of my own thrown in.

  • We all know that the ancients Aztecs revered the cacao bean: they even considered it money…so drinking chocolate was much like drinking gold. But the crème de la crème of the chocolate drink was the froth. The frothier the better.

    Whole cacao bean with soft shell

    Whole cacao bean with shell

  • Chocolate was considered hot and moist in a purely sensual way. In fact, the Catholic Church of the 1600s didn’t think it was suitable for women. Flash forward about 300 years and suitors were giving women boxes of chocolate to lure them to bed. Who knew some of the fillings, such as nutmeg and cinnamon really were aphrodisiacs.
  • Chocolate liquor is not an after dinner drink but the result of the cacao being heated. In other words, chocolate.
  • Baker’s Chocolate, which opened in the 1700s in Dorchester, Massachusetts just outside Boston, was among the first American chocolate makers. The company was not named for the people who used it but the founder Walter Baker. The logo of the girl serving chocolate drink was adopted in 1883 and based on a painting of 1740.
  • The Quakers of England, including the Cadbury and Frye family, were instrumental in creating modern day chocolate, starting in the 18th A great read is Deborah Cadbury’s book on the subject: “The Chocolate Wars.”
  • German Chocolate was actually Sam German’s chocolate. He developed a kind of dark chocolate for Baker’s Chocolate Company in 1852. In 1957, Mrs. George Clay’s chocolate cake recipe, with German’s chocolate, was featured in the Dallas Morning Star. The chocolate was a hit but the possessive wasn’t. It was soon dropped and the American made chocolate took on a new national identity.
  • Today, most chocolate is made in Africa, not its native Mesoamerica although plenty can be found there, too.

Baker’s Ads through the Ages

Baker's Chocolate in the Industrial Revolution

Baker’s Chocolate Celebrating the Industrial Revolution

Good for the elderly? Really?

Good for the elderly? Really?

Baker's Girl Based on 1700's painting

Baker’s Girl Based on 1700’s painting

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