google-site-verification: google0e688bd979c6ae6e.html The Preferred Life: Mar 9, 2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The History Of Chocolate Milk

“It’s sweet, creamy, and cold when it hits your lips.  It soothes the palate. It coats your throat when you take that big gulp.  It’s treasured by all, young and old alike.  It’s called chocolate milk.  What a wonderful delight.”

Chocolate milk has been a lunch room staple of American school children for years.  In the New York City school system alone, more than 60 million cartons of chocolate milk are consumed each year.  Parents don’t know whether to love it or hate it.  Some think it’s better than sugary sodas and others think it fills their kids with empty calories.    

Chocolate milk is said to have been discovered by Irish doctor Sir Hans Sloane. Soon after completing medical school at the University of Orange, Sloane was offered the opportunity to travel to Jamaica as the physician to the 2nd Duke of Albermarle.  After a 3 month journey to Jamaica and a 15 month stay, Sloane took great interest in studying the local fauna and flora, customs of the local inhabitants and natural phenomena such as earthquakes. 

Sloane was introduced to cocoa by the locals as they drank it mixed with water.  Upon his sampling of this concoction, he noted that it made him feel somewhat nauseated.  After many experiments, it is said that Sloane finally discovered that the use of cocoa in milk made the drink more palatable.  Following the Duke of Albermarle’s death, Sloane returned to England, brining his milk and cocoa mixture back with him.  It was first made and sold by apothecaries as medicine.  Eventually, in the nineteenth century, the recipe was taken up by Cadbury who manufactured chocolate using Sloane’s recipe.

As with most things, Sloane, who is given the credit for inventing chocolate milk, probably didn’t actually create this drink.  According to historian, James Delbourgo, Jamaicans were mixing a hot beverage of cacao shavings, milk, and cinnamon as far back as 1494.  Chocolate has been known to the human race as far back as 350 B.C.  Even Europeans had exposure to chocolate as far back as 1502.  So it’s hard to believe that Sir Hans Sloane was the inventor of chocolate milk.

Further studies show that archeologists reported findings of chocolate use pre-dating the Maya.  Chocolate residue found in an early classic ancient Mayan pot in Rio Azul, northern Guatemala, suggests the Mayans were drinking chocolate around 400 A.D.   Chocolate was believed to fight fatigue, and was associated with the Mayan god of fertility.  Chocolate was a luxury item throughout pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.  The cacao bean was so lucrative that it was used in trade.

The advent of chocolate milk has a long and tumultuous history.  It is said that an Irishman that relocated to England, studied medicine in Paris, was the inventor of chocolate milk in Jamaica, but the cocoa bean’s history says otherwise.  It can be used to make hot chocolate or the childhood favorite we all know as chocolate milk.  One thing is for sure, the cocoa bean has seen the world over.