Strange Facts in Chocolate History

Check out this selection of unusual and strange facts in chocolate history!

Believe it or not, there are some pretty strange facts in chocolate history. The modern candy bar didn’t just spring full grown from the head of Willy Wonka like some Greek god. No, chocolate has a detailed, rich, and sometimes bizarre history.

Ancient Maya

Chocolate originated in Mayan culture, where it held a highly revered place. In fact, the Mayans believed chocolate was so sacred they could only drink it from solid gold goblets -- which had to be thrown away after a single use!

Chocolate symbolized life, fertility, health, and royalty. Because they didn’t have sugar, the Mayans had to get creative in flavoring their chocolate drinks, and they did, using all kinds of spices (even hot chili peppers!). The Mayans believed chocolate came directly from the gods, and they even used cocoa beans as currency. That’s one of the better strange facts in chocolate history: money really did grow on trees!

European Intervention

Even once chocolate crossed the ocean, it remained a symbol of prestige and nobility. The explorer Cortez first combined cocoa with sugar and other spices to create a version of the famous hot chocolate we know today. Only royalty could afford this extravagant drink, however, so cocoa remained a status symbol for the elite.

Dominican monks carried the secret of hot chocolate to the rest of Europe, where it quickly caught on. But the strange facts in chocolate history don’t stop here: believe it or not, chocolate continued to find use as a currency in Europe! One hundred cocoa beans purchased a small hen or rabbit.

For whatever reason, the Catholic Church later decided that while drinking chocolate didn’t constitute a sin, eating it did. Fortunately, they later reversed this decision (much to the relief of children collecting chocolate eggs at Easter). As chocolate traveled to the new world, it became a solid confection, increasingly accessible to the world at large -- but not nearly so valuable. By the eighteenth century, the days of chocolate currency had come to an end.

The History Continues

A quick internet search shows that chocolate remains in the news today. Although there are many strange facts in chocolate history, perhaps the strangest thing remains how chocolate’s popularity remains high after nearly 2000 years of history!