Link #33: Hot Chocolate Was First Sold as Medicine


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Link #33: Hot Chocolate Was First Sold as Medicine

A glass of chocolate milk by Sugar Bear PD

The mention of hippos’ pink milk may have reminded you of strawberry milk but the one milk beverage that is loved the world over is chocolate milk. In fact, such is the popularity of chocolate milk that it is common to most countries of the world with some even having their own unique recipes for it.

While children love chocolate milk the most, even the adults are known to have it on a regular basis. However, did you know that chocolate milk was first sold in England as a medicine?

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Chocolate Milk as Medicine in England

Hans Sloane by Stephen Slaughter, 1736, National Portrait Gallery, London cc4.0

Chocolate milk was first brought to England by a British physician known as Sir Hans Sloane in the initial years of the 18th century. He first came across chocolate while studying in Jamaica. His first encounter was with a water based chocolate drink which didn’t really suit his taste.

In fact, Sloane is known to have found his first taste of chocolate to be nauseating. However, he tried chocolate with milk and liked it. After he brought it back to England, it was sold primarily as a form of medicine by medical professionals (apothecaries) of that time.

Around the middle of the 19th century, chocolate was being sold by Cadbury Brothers.

Why Was Chocolate Milk Seen as Medicine?

Molten chocolate and a piece of a chocolate bar GFDL v1.2

Chocolate has always had remedial properties. Even now, new research constantly reveals the healing and curative properties of chocolate. When chocolate was discovered, its taste wasn’t considered to be very great mainly because the processing techniques weren’t advanced enough.

In those days, its medicinal properties were why it was famous. A number of explorers of those times described the medicinal properties of chocolate. For instance, according to Francisco Hernandez, chocolate could help counter liver disease and fevers.

Santiago de Valverde Turices claimed that small quantities of chocolate can be used to help stomach problems while large quantities can cure chest problems. In fact, some people even used it for bad moods and anger in early times. This isn’t rare even today because chocolate is considered to calm people and make them feel euphoric.

Modern Science Proves Medicinal Properties of Chocolate

Today, research and studies have proven the health benefits of having chocolate in an unprocessed form. For example, research conducted by Cornell University showed that chocolate contains more antioxidants than tea or wine. Antioxidants are known for reducing the likelihood of heart problems.

The researchers even found that when chocolate is heated, more antioxidants are released which means that hot chocolate is even more beneficial than basic chocolate.

Similarly, research conducted by the National Institutes of Health showed that hot chocolate has qualities to boost a person’s arterial health as well. This means that chocolate can help blood flow better and improve the quality of one’s arteries.

The research revealed that this quality is a result of the flavonoids that are present in cocoa. Other research has shown that chocolate keeps platelets from clustering, counters free radicals, and helps in a number of other ways.

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