Before the well-known English company, Fry & Sons worked out how to manufacture chocolate into a confectionary bar in 1847, chocolate had only been used as a drink for millenia. Chocolate was initially brought back to Europe by the Spanish Conquistador Don Hernán Cortés, who toasted the Aztec King Moctezuma with a gold goblet of his favorite drink, before betraying and finally murdering him.
It does seem that Cortés, the Spaniard enjoyed the Aztec refreshment just about as much as he coveted the gold chalice it was served in. So as well as the stolen gemstones and precious metals, he carried some chocolate back to the Spanish homeland, where the court of King Charles V liked and adopted it. The Spanish artistocracy prepared their chocolate by boiling in wine. They also sweetened and spiced the beverage to remove the bitterness. It was served in a tall, deep cup during breakfast.
For centuries, Spain had a complete monopoly on the beverage, but eventually the secret became known across all of Europe and soon all the neighboring Monarchs were at it. Kings and Queens began to order that cocoa plantations be cultivated, wherever in the world the right conditions were available and land could be conquered and colonized.
Chocolate stayed in favor with the rich for centuries, until the English industrial revolution gave birth to a less posh, decadent and more business-like atmosphere. In this new industrial world, people favored the stimulating beverages of coffee and tea
The mid 19th century enjoyed the Dutch innovation of cocoa as a powder. Hence the term Dutch-processed chocolate. The powder was far less intense in flavor and much more soluble than the original chocolate was.
Thereafter, the drink was demoted to the kindergarten, since it was easily digestible for small children, and was also nourishing. A technique for making chocolate confectionary bars was developed later that century, and chocolate’s identity, as a food rather than as a drink, was transformed for ever.
For further reading, head on over to “A Chocolate Timeline“, our in-depth history of chocoloate