International Beans

Planning on giving your sweetie a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day? According to

thechocolatewebsite, there is international history in that box!

In roughly 1527, Spanish explorer Cortès brought cacao beans, equipment, and recipes for preparing chocolate from Mexico to the Spanish court of King Charles V. It made a profitable industry for Spain, which planted cocoa trees in its overseas colonies. Conveniently, the Spanish had taken over many Caribbean islands, and on those islands was sugar.

Over the next 60 years, small but noticable changes were made in how chocolate was prepared. Spanish nuns in Oaxaca, Mexico were the first to sweeten chocolate with honey, cinnamon and cane sugar, making the drink popular with colonials. For many Europeans, drinking chocolate was an acquired taste.

Around 1641, cocoa was introduced to Germany by a German scientist named Johann Georg Voldkammer, who discovered it in Naples, Italy. The Germans instituted the habit of a cup of hot chocolate before bedtime. By 1657, the first chocolate house was opened in London…by a Frenchman! Coffee houses were already popular; now one could go to a chocolate house to have a drink and talk over cards. Eventually, the chocolate drinks began to include milk and cinnamon.

By the turn of the 18th century, chocolate had made its way back to the Americas. In little more than a decade, Massachusetts sea captains were bringing back cargoes of cocoa beans. Boston apothecary shops were advertising and selling chocolate imported from Europe. In 1861, Richard Cadbury created the first known heart-shaped candy box for Valentine’s Day.

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