1893 text

Chocolate was introduced into England about the year 1652. In the “Publick Advertiser” of Tuesday, June 16-22, 1657, we find the following; “In Bishopsgate Street in Queen’s Head Alley, at a Frenchman’s house, is an excellent West India drink called chocolate, to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time, and also unmade at reasonable rates.”—M. B.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

8 Annotations

First Reading

Laura Brown  •  Link

Chocolate in Pepys' day

Chocolate at this time would have been drunk, not eaten. It was a relative newcomer to Britain, having been brought from South America only in the previous century. It was often drunk in establishments called chocolate houses, and was thought to improve the health.

Mary  •  Link

A rich drink.

At this stage chocolate was a drink rich in fat, as it was made from whole chocolate, containing the full complement of natural cocoa-butter. Much later (19th century) the cocoa-butter was extracted for the confectionery trade.

In Pepys' time the beverage tended to be further enriched by the addition of eggs, sack and/or spices. It must have resembled a sort of chocolate-flavoured egg-nog.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Chocolate Cream.
Take a Pint of Cream, with a spoonful of scrap'd Chocolate, and boil them well together, mix with it the Yolks of two Eggs, and thicken and mill it on the Fire; then pour it into your Chocolate-Cups.
---Court Cookery. R. Smith, 1725.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

The bitter undertones of 17th century cacao alluded to equally unsettling histories. By the time of the young privateer William Hughes’ 1630's Caribbean voyage, the great pre-Columbian empires had all but fallen. Hundreds of thousands of Native Americans had been killed by Spanish and Portuguese guns, forced labor, and disease. Thousands of enslaved Africans were being taken to American plantations to replace them.

As a result of this violent, vibrant exchange, a new Mestizo culture was born, indigenous, African, and European peoples all at once.

These people in Empire’s margins — enslaved Africans coaxing sugarcane from island soil, and the Mestiza ladies who mixed indigenous knowledge into chocolate for their Spanish employers or husbands, all were the true authors of Hughes’ 1672 book, The American Physitian.

As with many natural historians of his time, William Hughes’ work was an act of information possession. His botanical buccaneering was a stand-in for the colonial project as a whole. Like all Europeans in the New World, he extracted resources and knowledge from lands and people that were not his to take.

And this is the great irony of Europeans’ enduring obsession with cocoa:
William Hughes tried to benefit from his possession of New World knowledge, but that chocolate, and the indigenous traditions that created it, have possessed Europe ever since.

For more, see

Third Reading

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.





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