A cold December day is the perfect time to make yourself a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy National Cocoa Day. Each year on December 13, people across the country celebrate their favorite cold weather comfort drink.
The terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa are often used interchangeably by Americans causing a bit of confusion. To make hot chocolate, we use ground chocolate which contains cocoa butter. It’s mixed with hot milk and is actually a drinking chocolate.
- It is believed that 2000 years ago the first chocolate beverage was created by the Mayas and a cocoa beverage was an essential part of Aztec culture by 1400 AD.
- Europe popularized the drink after it was introduced from Mexico in the New World and it has undergone multiple changes since then.
- Up until the 19th century, hot chocolate was used medicinally to treat ailments such as stomach diseases.
- Cocoa contains significant amounts of antioxidants that may help prevent cancer. It has also been shown that the cocoa beans help with digestion. The flavonoids that are found in the cocoa also have a positive effect on arterial health.
- It takes 5 years for a cocoa tree to produce its first seed pods.
- It takes about 400 beans to make a pound of chocolate.
- Chocolate has properties that combat Heart disease; thanks to flavanoids from the cocoa plant.
- Christopher Columbus, in 1502, was thought to have brought cocoa beans to King Ferdinand, during his fourth trip from the New World.
- Cocoa was exported to Europe in 1585 but the first chocolate bar was not made until 1848.
- The first chocolate house for the United States was established in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
- Throughout the world the annual cocoa production is 3 million tons
- Supposedly the Aztec Emperor, Montezuma – was quoted saying of Xocolatl: “The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food.”
- To the Aztec’s, Xocolatl was much more valuable than gold or silver. When Montezuma was defeated by Cortez in 1519, the conquistadors searched his palace and found huge quantities of cocoa beans instead of gold, silver, or precious metals.
- Cocoa/chocolate is thought be an aphrodisiac.
- The Swiss consume more chocolate per capita than any other nation on earth: 22 pounds each compared to 11 pounds per person in the United States.
- In its earliest forms, the Mayans used cocoa to create a ritual beverage that was shared during betrothal and marriage ceremonies, providing one of the first known links between chocolate and romance.
- To aid morale and keep soldiers energized during the war, the YMCA sent more than 25,000 volunteers to set up comfort stations all along the battlefront. The stations were always stocked with magazines, cigarettes and snacks, along with piping-hot pots of cocoa. They were called the “Red Triangle Men” in reference to the YMCA’s logo, and they could be found from Egypt to Russia, and often quite close to the fighting.