Random Facts: Chocolate

7th July is World Chocolate Day, supposedly celebrating the day in 1550 when chocolate was introduced into Europe.
However, although frequently repeated, the date of 7th July 1550 seems to be nonsense. Columbus brought cocoa beans back to the Spanish court in 1502, but King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella didn’t know what to do with the beans and ignored them.

The true credit for introducing chocolate to Europe may be due to Hernán Cortés who learnt about drinking chocolate from the Aztecs in 1519… or it may have been a delegation of Mayan nobles who brought cocoa to Spain in 1544.

The Mayans are thought to have cultivated the cacao tree since around 1000 BC.

The Aztecs made a drink of cacao beans which they called “cacahuatl”, meaning “bitter water”.

The word “chocolate” was first recorded in English in 1604.

In the 16th century, a fierce dispute broke out between Jesuits and Dominicans over whether drinking chocolate was permitted during Lent. Pope Gregory XIII sided with the Jesuits and ruled that drinking chocolate was permitted during the fast.