To trace the origin of hot chocolate, we have to leave the snowy regions of Europe and instead travel to the exotic jungles of South America.
Hot chocolate was originally a New World drink created by the mighty Mayan empire. Long before South America was touched by Europeans, the South American Indian tribes were enjoying the hot beverage we know and love – hot chocolate.
The cocoa bean comes from a tropical tree which is one of the reasons that chocolate was not discovered or enjoyed by Europeans until the Age of Exploration.
The hot chocolate that the Mayans and Aztecs enjoyed could hardly be compared to what we enjoy now days. It was called xocōlātl. The first hot chocolate was bitter and flavored with chilies, cornmeal and vanilla. It was a special and rich drink often served only to the wealthy.
Even today, Mexican hot chocolate served by the Hispanic cultures is still flavored with spices like cinnamon and chili.
It wasn’t until Europeans began enjoying chocolate that sugar and milk was added to hot chocolate.