Chocolate originated in Central and South America. The Maya and Aztecs made it into a drink with pepper and vanilla, calling it xocoatl. They believed that the cocoa tree was a gift from the gods – and the beans were so precious that they were used as currency.
In the early 16th century the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés brought chocolate to Europe – but there, for a long time, it remained a luxury for the rich and powerful.
It was not until the 18th century that a new process was invented for making cocoa powder quickly and efficiently. By 1900 the price of cocoa had fallen so far that it spread to the masses: from being a luxury, chocolate became a drink for the people. Solid chocolate as we now know it was made for the first time in England in the early 19th century.
Today chocolate is available everywhere in every form, but the scientific name for the cocoa tree is still a reminder of its precious origins: Theobroma cacao – food of the goods.