Early History Timeline:
2000 BC, Amazon: Cocoa, from which chocolate is created, is said to have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago.
Sixth Century AD: Chocolate, derived from the seed of the cocoa tree, was used by the Maya Culture, as early as the Sixth Century AD. Maya called the cocoa tree cacahuaquchtl… “tree,” and the word chocolate comes from the Maya word xocoatl which means bitter water.
300 AD, Maya Culture: To the Mayas, cocoa pods symbolized life and fertility… nothing could be more important! Stones from their palaces and temples revealed many carved pictures of cocoa pods.
600 AD, Maya Culture:Moving from Central America to the northern portions of South America, the Mayan territory stretched from the Yucatán Peninsula to the Pacific Coast of Guatemala. In the Yucatán, the Mayas cultivated the earliest known cocoa plantations. The cocoa pod was often represented in religious rituals, and the texts their literature refer to cocoa as the god’s food
1200 AD-Aztec Culture
Cocoa beans were used by the Aztec civilisation to make a frothy, hot drink and chocolate itself was revered for its special vitality and wisdom giving properties. As such it was only given to the nobility, priests and warriors. As a fermented drink (probably quite bitter and nothing like our modern day, sweet tasting chocolate), the Aztecs used chocolate in religious ceremonies and the Emperor Montezuma is believed to have drunk it in large quantities every day.
It was Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez who is credited with recording the enjoyment of chocolate in Emperor Montezuma’s court.
It’s generally believed that chocolate as a drink was introduced to Europe in the 16th century by explorers returning from their travels and the first official cocoa bean shipments into Europe took place in Seville in 1585 from Mexico.
For history of chocolate visit: http://www.ice-cream-recipes.com/chocolate.htm and http://www.chocolatemonthclub.com/chocolatehistory.htm