When did chocolate come to Europe?
No one knows for sure when chocolate came to Europe. Legend has it that explorer Hernán Cortés brought chocolate to his homeland of Spain in 1528.
Cortés was believed to have discovered chocolate during an expedition to the Americas. In search of gold and riches, he instead found a cup of cocoa given to him by the Aztec emperor.
When Cortés returned home, he introduced cocoa seeds to the Spanish. Though still served as a drink, Spanish chocolates were mixed with sugar and honey to sweeten the naturally bitter taste.
Chocolate quickly became popular among the rich and wealthy in Spain. Even Catholic monks loved chocolate and drank it to aid religious practices.
Chocolate seduces Europe
The Spanish kept chocolate quiet for a very long time. It was nearly a century before the treat reached neighboring France, and then the rest of Europe.
In 1615, French King Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, daughter of Spanish King Phillip III. To celebrate the union, she brought samples of chocolate to the royal courts of France.
Following France’s lead, chocolate soon appeared in Britain at special “chocolate houses”. As the trend spread through Europe, many nations set up their own cacao plantations in countries along the equator.