The Delicious History of Hot Chocolate

Image by Freepik

After going skiing or being out in the snow, nothing beats warming up with a cup of hot cocoa. Nowadays, people are used to all the cool toppings like whipped cream, marshmallows, and crushed peppermint candy. But it was way back in 1500 B.C. when the Olmec people in Central America first started sipping on liquid chocolate. Even the Aztec emperor Montezuma was into it.

The Origins of Hot Chocolate

The word chocolate comes from the Aztec word “xocolatl.” The Aztecs didn’t have their cocoa hot like people are used to consuming it today, and since sugar hadn’t made its way from Europe yet, they added peppers and spices to it. It might not have been as fancy as what people are used to today, but they believed chocolate was a gift from the gods that had healing powers.

When the Spanish showed up in the 1500s, they took liquid chocolate back to Europe. Rich folks there added sugar and drank it warm, making it a high-class drink. Even doctors used it to hide the taste of nasty medicines, a practice that is still alive today. Eventually, regular people caught on to the new trend, and chocolate houses started popping up in 17th-century Europe. There, they poured hot chocolate from fancy pots into elegant cups. Sadly, by the end of the 18th century, chocolate houses were mostly gone, partly because chocolate was pricier than coffee or tea.

An International Beverage

In 1917, marshmallows joined the hot chocolate party thanks to Angelus Marshmallows publishing a recipe. And instant cocoa? That’s an American invention from the late 1950s. Charles Sanna, a dairy company owner, had too much powdered coffee creamer, so he mixed it with sugar and cocoa powder, giving people the original Swiss Miss.

Image by Freepik

Having such a rich history, hot chocolate has many iterations around the world. In Italy, they have the cioccolata calda, a thick version of the beverage. In Ecuador and Colombia, they serve chocolate caliente with soft farmer cheese, and in the Philippines, they make sikwate and serve it with mango chunks.

Mendocino County Offers Many Parks and a Beautiful Coastline

Mendocino County is located in Northern California and is a treasure trove of natural wonders, offering solitude and breathtaking landscapes for those seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With its abundance of protected areas, including 24 state and national parks, the area beckons visitors to explore its trails and shores.

Mendocino County in Northern California

Mendocino County Offers Many Parks and a Beautiful Coastline

Hendy Woods State Park, established in 1958, stands as a testament to the preservation of ancient redwood trees, which can only be found in a few select regions worldwide. These majestic giants have weathered the passage of time, standing tall for over a millennium. To truly experience the wonders of Mendocino, a visit to Mendocino Headlands State Park is a must. The picturesque Mendocino Headlands Trail, a 4.2-mile out-and-back trek, guides hikers along the edge of the bluffs, offering panoramic views of the Northern California coastline. The rugged rock formations below and the vibrant display of wildflowers create an awe-inspiring setting. The area is great for bird enthusiasts who want to observe brown pelicans and egrets.

For an immersive adventure in the heart of nature, the Fern Canyon Loop hike awaits. Located within Russian Gulch State Park, this 6.2-mile trail winds through a lush canyon, surrounded by dense forests and towering redwood trees. Here is also an opportunity to stroll under the elegant Russian Gulch Bridge and explore the nearby shoreline.

Parks and Beaches Await at Mendocino

History enthusiasts and train lovers alike will delight in riding the Skunk Train. The tracks, dating back to 1885, were once used to transport logging workers and timber. Today, the Skunk Train offers leisurely journeys through the enchanting redwood forests. Passengers can marvel at the majestic trees while enjoying a relaxed ride that captures the charm of a bygone era.

A visit to Glass Beach unveils another intriguing facet of Mendocino’s history. From the early 20th century until 1967, residents used this coastal spot as a dumping site for all sorts of items, including glassware and appliances. The remnants of this era now wash ashore as smooth, colorful shards of sea glass. Treasure hunters can immerse themselves in the thrill of collecting these discarded treasures.

Enjoy the Coastline

Enjoy the Coastline

Mendocino’s coastline is one of the most beautiful in Northern California and boasts numerous other beaches waiting to be explored. With 90 miles of stunning shoreline, visitors have an array of options to choose from. Whether it’s exploring tide pools and a kid-friendly lagoon at Jug Handle State Beach, marveling at the unique rock formations at Bowling Ball Beach during low tide, or enjoying the pristine sands of Big River Beach or Van Damme State Park, Mendocino offers a beach experience for every preference.

With a temperate climate and year-round appeal, Mendocino welcomes visitors in every season. Getting to Mendocino in California may require a bit of a journey, but the scenic route is well worth the effort.