The importation of chocolate into Europe is almost the very tail of the fashion for caffeine stimulation that began during the industrial revolution. Chocolate made from ground beans of the Theobroma cacao tree growing on the Amazon contains / only small amounts of caffeine, but is rich in caffeine-related theobromine. Substances related to both are endogenously found in normal human metabolism. Like caffeine, theobromine is a stimulant, and the potential for addiction in chocolate is very significant.
Cocoa trees were brought to central Mexico from the tropics of South America many centuries before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. There they played an important sacramental role as a sacrament in the Mayan and Aztec religion. Maya also used cocoa beans as money equivalent. They say that the Aztec leader Montezuma was seriously committed to ground cocoa: he drank his chocolate unsweetened in an infusion of cold water. A mixture of ground chocolate and mushrooms containing psilocybin served the guests at the coronation celebrations of Montezuma II in 1502.
Cortés was informed about the existence of cocoa by his beloved, nee American dona Marina, who was referred to him as one of the nineteen young women proposed by Montezuma as a tribute. Convinced by dona Marina, that cocoa is a strong aphrodisiac, Cortes was eager to start cultivating this plant. He wrote to Emperor Charles V: “On the lands of one enterprise, 2,000 trees were traveled; their fruits are almond-like and are sold ground into powder. ”
Shortly thereafter, chocolate was introduced to Spain, where it soon became extremely popular. Nevertheless, the spread of chocolate was slow, perhaps because several stimulants competed at once in capturing the attention of European countries. In Italy and the Benelux countries, chocolate did not appear until 1606, in France and England it appeared only at the beginning of the second half of the seventeenth century. Excluding the brief period of the reign of Frederick II, when chocolate drink became a favorite tool for professional poisoners who added poison to chocolate, its popularity steadily increased along with an increase in production.
Incredibly, but for a relatively short period (two centuries) four stimulator? – sugar, tea, coffee and chocolate – were able to turn from local goods into the subject of trade of the largest trading empires protected by military forces, the most significant ever known until that time and supported by the newly introduced practice of slave bonded labor. Such is the action of “a cup that invigorates, but does not intoxicate.”