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History of Hot Chocolate

As you enjoy your delicious Galaxy Hot Chocolate drink from your UK Vending coffee machine spare a thought for how it got to your cup. I don’t actually mean how the cocoa bean was grown and roasted and then fashioned into a warming and satisfying drink, I mean the long and illustrious history of hot chocolate in general.

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Did you know, for example, that the cocoa bean was first used as a drink by the ancient Aztecs over 2000 years ago?

It then spread out throughout Latin and Central America with the ancient Mayan civilisation making a drink that incorporated cornmeal, water and chili peppers. The invading Spanish then flavoured this drink with vanilla pods. It is believed that this drink had a very bitter taste as sugar had yet to be developed. The Spanish and other European nations that traveled the globe in voyages of discovery found this drink called xocolatl and brought it back across the North Atlantic and into Europe by the mid 16th Century. Due to its rarity and cost cocoa was used medicinally for liver and stomach diseases.

During the reign of King Charles V of Spain Europeans started to drink hot chocolate more regularly although it was confined to the aristocracy who could afford to buy this extremely expensive product. Around this time sugar was used to sweeten the drink and make it more palatable and in 1657 the first Chocolate House was opened.

Hans Sloane, who was at the time President of the Royal College of Physicians, visited the island of Jamaica and tried their version of chocolate. He disliked the taste but found adding milk to the mixture made it much more agreeable. On his return to England towards the end of the 17th Century he brought back the recipe and went onto develop milk chocolate both as drink and as a bar. It took until 1828 until cocoa powder was developed by Dutchman Coenraad Johannes van Houten which made mixing with water or milk much easier to accomplish.

Today there are hundreds of varieties of hot chocolate available with regional differences across the globe, for example in Italy a very thick cioccolata densa is served and in Spain they prefer to have their hot chocolate as chocolate a la taza. In the United States the American taste is for a thinner version of hot cocoa.

So as you stand at your coffee machine and think about how good your hot Galaxy Hot Chocolate will taste spare a thought for all the history behind your cup of steaming hot chocolate.

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