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A Brief History of (Alcoholic) Chocolate

We all love chocolate, but do we even know chocolate at all?

“I often call chocolate the best-known food that nobody knows anything about,” says Alexandra Leaf, a self-described ‘chocolate educator’. The history of chocolate, for some people, goes only as far as the source of its production: cocoa beans. To us in the 21st century, it’s a delicacy to be enjoyed as we bite into its velvety texture, as we chew into its sweetness, and as it melts in our mouth. We weren’t even that crazy to think that alcoholic chocolate is next-level to what might be the sweetest things human have known. But why isn’t it crazy? Why has it always been weirdly engrained in our heads that alcoholic chocolate is not strange but comfortably deluxe, like it has always been a part of our world?

It’s because it has been. Surprisingly, the journey of chocolate started as it being a drink; its deliverance into the confectionary we know today is the work of centuries of creativity. Let’s take you back to 1400 BC Honduras (yes, that long ago), the very beginning of chocolate, where the sweet pulp of the fruit that surrounded cocoa beans was fermented into an alcoholic cacao drink. Yes, chocolate was an alcoholic beverage before it was ever chocolate. Essentially, also, the elaborate fermentation process that used the seeds in the pulp was what gave the drink its distinctive chocolate flavour. It wasn’t until the 1870s that the milk chocolate closest to what we know it as today has hit the confectionary market.

So the next time you order a box or two, remember - this is how our ancestors have always intended for us to have chocolate: all liquored up.

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