Charlene Raddon & Chocolate: A Victorian Treat? Or More?

Today, chocolate is a universal sweet loved by virtually everyone, but how long has it really been around? The Victorians adored the hot drink, but did they invent it?

Actually, the first chocolate house in London opened in 1657, advertising the sale of “an excellent West India drink”. In 1689, a noted physician, Hans Sloane, developed a milk chocolate drink, which was initially used by apothecaries. Later Sloane’s recipe was sold to the Cadbury brothers. London chocolate houses became trendy meeting places for the elite London society that savored the new luxury.

But chocolate goes back much farther than the seventeenth century. The fermented, roasted, and ground beans of the Theobroma cacao (chocolate), can be traced to the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec people, with evidence of cacao beverages dating back to 1900 B.C.

The Maya are credited with creating a drink by mixing water, chile peppers, cornmeal, and ground cacao seeds. The Aztecs acquired the cacao seeds by trading with the Maya. For both cultures, chocolate became an important part of royal and religious ceremonies. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the gods and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies. Chocolate was so revered, the Aztecs used it as both a food and currency. All areas conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a “tribute”.

In 1521, during the conquest of Mexico, the Spanish conquistadors discovered the seeds and took them home to Spain. The Spaniards mixed the beans with sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cinnamon. The result was coveted and reserved for the Spanish nobility. Spain managed to keep chocolate a secret from the rest of the world for almost 100 years.

Once discovered, the drink spread throughout Europe.

Somewhere along the way, some European decided a special pot to serve the beverage was needed. The earliest pots were silver and copper. Later, European porcelain manufactures began producing them as well. These pots had a right-angle handle and a hole in the lid in which a wooden stirrer, called a molinet or molinillo, stirred the mixture. Rather than a log spout which began in the middle of the side of the pot, as coffee and tea pots do, the chocolate pot has a flared spout at the top. If you look on e-Bay, you’ll see pots of both styles, those with the long side spouts offered as combination coffee or chocolate pots. Prices range considerably, but a good pot can run as much as $700.00, and a set, with cups and saucers and sometimes sugar and creamer, can be as high as $3,000. Although none of mine are this valuable, my personal collection of chocolate pots numbers about 25 at the moment. The photographs are from my assortment.

Although it doesn’t appear in my book, To Have and To Hold, hot chocolate would have been served in Viola Simses’ eatery, and my heroine, Tempest Whitney and her children would have gone there to enjoy the special beverage. Viola undoubtedly owned a chocolate pot, but she would have reserved its use for her private quarters, not the eatery where the cups and saucers would surely have ended up broken.

The origins of the word “chocolate” probably comes from the Classical Nahuatl word xocol?tl (meaning “bitter water”), and entered the English language from Spanish. How the word “chocolate” came into Spanish is not certain. The most cited explanation is that “chocolate” comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, from the word “chocolatl”, which many sources derived from the Nahuatl word “xocolatl” (pronounced [ ?o?kola?t?]) made up from the words “xococ” meaning sour or bitter, and “atl” meaning water or drink. Trouble is, the word “chocolatl” doesn”t occur in central Mexican colonial sources.

Chocolate first appeared in The United States in 1755. Ten years later the first chocolate factory in the U.S. went into production.

BIO:  Charlene”s first serious writing attempt came in 1980 when she awoke one morning from an unusually vivid and compelling dream. Deciding that dream needed to be made into a book, she dug out an old portable typewriter and went to work. That book never sold, but her second one, Tender Touch, became a Golden Heart finalist and earned her an agent. Soon after, she signed a three book contract with Kensington Books. Five of Charlene”s western historical romances were published between 1994 and 1999: Taming Jenna, Tender Touch (1994 Golden Heart Finalist under the title Brianna), Forever Mine (1996 Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer”s Choice Award Nominee and Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll finalist), To Have and To Hold Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll finalist); and writing as Rachel Summers, The Scent of Roses. Forever Mine and Tender Touch are available as e-books and after January 24, To Have and To Hold will be as well.

When not writing, Charlene loves to travel, crochet, needlepoint, research genealogy, scrapbook, and dye Ukrainian eggs.



Charlene is having TWO giveaways today. First prize winner can choose between a Nippon Geisha Girl chocolate pot (photo to the right) or a $10 Amazon gift card. A second prize winner will receive whichever item the first prize winner does not select. All you have to do to be entered in the drawing is leave a comment.


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41 thoughts on “Charlene Raddon & Chocolate: A Victorian Treat? Or More?”

  1. Hi Charlene,
    Now you’ve done it to me. Gotta have some chocolate. Can’t live without it.
    Thanks for the great history. I can see why the Mayans offered it to the gods.
    TO HAVE AND TO HOLd sounds like a heartwarming book. And that chocolate pot is gorgeous. Two winners will be very lucky today.
    Hugs to my very talented friend.

  2. Charlene,
    I enjoyed reading about the history of chocolate. I can’t believe it dates back to 1900 BC! I liked how a doctor discovered the West Indies drink which led to England’s Cadbury chocolate treats!! Amazing!

    WOW those chocolate pots are expensive but beautiful!

  3. It was fun for this “chocoholic” to read about the “rich” history of chocolate. Chocolate does sometimes seem like a miracle drug that makes everything better. 😉

  4. Charlene, welcome back to P&P! It’s a pleasure to have you. And what a subject. I think everyone loves chocolate. Last year when I went on a cruise to the Caribbean I toured some Mayan ruins. The tour guide had some cocoa beans and he let us each taste them. The were good. Tasted exactly like semi-sweet chocolate. I know if I lived in the 1800’s hot cocoa would’ve been my drink of choice. I’d have had a special chocolate pot and maybe had chocolate parties. LOL

    Wishing you lots of success!

  5. Thank you for this post which informed me about the best treat ever, chocolate which is so enticing. The chocolate pots are extraordinary and lovely.

  6. Well, you ladies must get up a lot earlier than me. Sorry I’m checking in so late, although it is only 8:45am here. Thank you for all your kind comments. Glad you enjoyed the blog. I need to correct one detail though. The chocolate pot pictured as the prize in the giveaway is the wrong pot. Hope this can get straightened out right away, and I apologize for the confusion.

  7. This was very interesting. I have a set similar to this from my great-grandmother but it’s always been in the back of a cupboard. I’ll have to go get it out and look at it.

  8. Delightful and informative chocolate ideas which are appealing. The pots are great for display and to use to surprise visitors with.

  9. Hi Charlene. Loved your post. I always knew chocolate had medicinal properties. 🙂

    I would love to be entered into your giveaway! Thank you for your generosity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT come

  10. Welcome, Charlene! I love your post. I mean, what’s not to love about chocolate? I had a hero in one of my books own a chocolate mill just outside of Boston in the 19th century. I had a ball doing all the research!!! TO HAVE AND TO HOLD sounds lovely. I might have to drink a cup of hot chocolate while I read it!!!

  11. Loved the history of chocolate but have to admit that I am not a chocolate lover. I only eat milk chocolate if it has nuts or coconut in it (Snickers, Almond Joy).

  12. It is amazing to know that chocolate has been around for so long… thanks for the interesting post today! 🙂

  13. Enjoyed reading the information about chocolate. I love chocolates but try to limit myself to just a few. The chocolate pots are quite unique and decorative.
    Your book sounds really good and i have added it to my TBR list.

  14. Thanks, Goldie, Colleen and Joye. I can’t live without my dark chocolate. Milk chocolate I can resist…sometimes. What I love most is dark chocolate with peanut butter, but that usually means I have to dip my chocolate into the PB because you don’t often find the two together.

  15. those chocolate pots are beautiful!I have a few vintage tea pots,but none as pretty as those you have pictured,they just dont make the pretty ones like they used too

  16. I have never heard of a chocolate pot before but it makes sense. My mom always just made it in a small pan on the stove lol. They really are beautiful. I have teapots and lots of china cups (my husband’s grandmother had a collection that I inherited) but nothing like that. Thanks for all the fascinating information!

  17. I liked your history of chocolate. I love dark chocolate. I have not tried chile peppers in hot chocolate yet, but it sounds yummy. I am looking forward to reading your new book.

  18. I liked your blog on the history of chocolate as I love chocolate, especially dark. I will have to try the chile peppers in hot chocolate, that sounds yummy. Looking forward to reading your new book also.

  19. $700.00 to $3,000.00 Wow, I had no idea they can run that high! Great article! Glad to have found your blog!

  20. Well you do learn something new every day. I do love me some chocolate. This is an awesome post, really enjoyed the history of chocolate and the little pots are so pretty. I am a big fan of hot chocolate with some marshmellows in it, when it get cold and its been really cold here this week. Thanks for the great post.

  21. Minna, buy some chocolate for me. I’m overwhelmed by the response to my blog, but then, chocolate is very popular with most people. Ginger, you can find the pots cheaper than $700. Look at e-Bay. Of course, the rare and really beautiful ones are more expensive, but sometimes I find a real bargain. Shirl, so glad to see you here. Thanks for stopping by.

  22. Okay, now chocolate is calling my name from the kitchen….thanks so much for the post. It is very interesting. Will have to check…I think that my mother-in-law may have had such a pot. If she did it is in a box somewhere in my house.

  23. Thanks for a great blog about my favorite comestible…chocolate…in solid form or liquid. I did quite a bit of research on the subject while writing my Mayan vampire novel,Dark God Descending, and again for my upcoming one, Shadow Lord. I discovered Ek Chuah the god of merchants gave the cacao bean to the Maya to use for trade, as money, in sacrifices and ceremonies, and to provide the beverage only the nobility was allowed to drink, made, as you say, with corn meal and chiles. It was called the “blood of the gods. Even knowing that, I still rate it my Number One indulgence.

  24. Chocolate calls my name every day. Cannot seem to go without at least two little nuggets of chocolate after lunch. I have read many books where hot chocolate was enjoyed, but never knew there was a special pot for making it in. Very interesting and the ones you’ve shown are beautiful.

    Thank you too for the opportunity to win. I would love the amazon card and know just how I’d spend it – on one of your books. Read a preview last night and so would like to read more. Thank you!

  25. Charlene, I am sorry I was out of town and missed your post and giveaway. Your chocolate pots collection samples are lovely. I do have one similar to the one you are giving away.
    Thank you for an informative post. It filled in a few blanks for me. My daughter and I went to a chocolate house in Asheville, NC. She ordered the Aztec style, but couldn’t drink much of it. It was just too bitter. She brought it home and had it the next morning with sugar and more mild added.

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