December 11, 2017
When leaves start to fall and the cold wind is felt more than usual here in California it means it is time for warm blankets and hot chocolate. History.com praises hot chocolate for being known to boosts mood and vitality and combats stress, anxiety and pain. It has been a key factor of the holiday season for decades. The favorite of adults and especially children now was also a sweet treat enjoyed for centuries by rulers, warriors and explorers.
Hot chocolate was introduced into past civilizations about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. According to History.com, The Olmec discovered it first before passing the chocolate drink on to the Maya civilization, who then passed it on to perhaps the beverage’s most famous historical forefathers, the Aztecs. To display his lavish and powerful life styles, Aztec leader Moctezuma II demanded cacao beans from conquered peoples and supposedly drank hot chocolate excessively. After Hernan Cortez’s exploration and exploitation of Aztec territory he brought the popular drink to Spain, where it became popular throughout Europe and, eventually, the world.
Besides being a typical holiday drink it also served as remedies for soldiers during the revolutionary war. History.com mentions how medics utilized the beverage to wounded, sick or tired soldiers to quicken their recoveries. Soldiers were given small portions of chocolate in their military rations to make the drink themselves. Americans fighting in World War II were also treated to the hot drink when cocoa was added to some of the military field rations in 1944.
Before having the option of instant hot chocolate in a package there were many steps taken to achieve the perfect mix. Whatscookingamerica.com mentions how the original hot chocolate recipe was a mixture of ground cocoa beans, water, wine and Chile peppers. Spaniards first began heating the mixture and sweetening it with sugar. The English then added milk to the after-dinner treat.
“My family loves hot chocolate during the winter! We usually just use the brand Abuelita, it’s definitely a favorite for my family.” said Liz Palafox, ORHS senior.
Abuelita is a brand of chocolate tablets, or powdered mix in individual packets, made by Nestlé and used to make Mexican-style hot chocolate. Palafox mentions how “simple” it is to “just put it in boiling milk or water and it’s done!”
Nowadays there are multiple quick and easy ways to make hot chocolate. It comes in both powder form or solid in tablets that you put into boiling water or milk, mix and you’re ready to go! There are also machines made by brands like KitchenAid and Keurig that make the drink from scratch in just minutes. When there is no time to actually make the drink, it can also be found at any Starbucks or corner cafe.
Although it might not be as important in the military, hot chocolate is still relevant in the homes of millions of Americans according to the Guardian. They describe how every cup of hot chocolate will always bring a smile to anyone’s face because “it’s hot and truly warms you up on a cold day… the luxurious taste and feel of drinking hot chocolate that then warms your whole body is exquisite.” Even hundreds of years later hot chocolate still has the same effect on people.