Friday, January 13, 2012

Victorian Chocolate Pots

With the January deep freeze starting to set in here in Winnipeg, and with Le Professor Gothique's monthly homework assignment of a post inspired by ice and snow, my thoughts have turned to hot beverages. I am particularly interested in that most comforting of winter beverages - hot chocolate.

The Mayans first started drinking the beverage over 2000 years ago, though it was quite different than the one we now know. They drank theirs mixed with chillies and sometimes cornmeal. It was a kind of bitter and spicy beverage.
The Spanish brought the drink back to the old world in the 1500s where it was readily adopted by the court of Charles V . From there it spread to the other courts in Europe, and was at first a beverage drank only by the aristocracy due to it's high cost. They drank this version of chocolate with vanilla and spices mixed in hot water.

In the 1600s with the introduction of sugar from the new world, it began to be added to hot chocolate which increased the drink's popularity, though it still remained a pricey item. In the latter part of the century, Hans Sloane, the president of the Royal College of Physicians, visited Jamaica where he tried hot chocolate and found it tasted better with milk. He took the recipe back to England where it was well received by the public.
The next step in the development of this winter mainstay was in 1828, when a Dutchman, Coenraad Johannes Van Houten, made cocoa by pressing the cocoa butter into a powder.
The instant cocoa made the beverage easy to package and sell to households.

The Victorians then came up with the chocolate pot, a variation of the tea pot, for making instant hot chocolate. The pots often had a wooden handle (though some were ceramic) and came with a whisk for frothing together the milk, cocoa and sugar. You could also get pots with a set of cups, some with elaborate designs.
Here are some pictures I found of lovely Victorian chocolate pots and cups.

I also found a site Victorian Trading Co that sells Victorian replica items, including this chocolate pot below. Check the site out.

Are you a hot chocolate fan? What do you like to drink when it gets chilly out?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. It was so interesting to read! I must check out that Victorian replica store, the chocolate pot is so nice! I don't drink hot cocoa very often but its very comforting drink when you have been outdoors the whole day in the cold.

  2. I want a chocolate pot sooooo bad now! I love this post....almost as much as I love chocolate! Hearts, janna lynn

  3. Ooooo, drinking chocolate! I love the ceramic pots best, especially the first and second ones as they seem to have a later 19th century influence (Art Nouveau). Victorian Trading Co. is one of my favorite companies to buy from! They had a mocha/chocolate pot some time back that was very Muncha inspired -- it was mostly done in his deep, delicious golds and oranges. So pretty.

    I do like hot cocoa -- that's what native NYC folks call hot chocolate. :) Funny right? Quick story: I was up in Boston for First Night a few years back. There were food trucks/vendors all over the city that night selling food and hot beverages. I ordered a hot cocoa from one and the guy looked at me with a huge smile across his face and said, "Ah you must be from NYC!" I was shocked. When I confirmed his suspicion he replied that only NYers would order "hot chocolate" like that ... and then proceeded to yell out GO YANKEES! hehehehe ... he almost caused a riot -- remember it's Red Sock central!

    Thanks for participating!

  4. the pictures of the pots are just so beautiful! <3

  5. Lovely. Thank you so much for sharing this. Very cool.

  6. You have the best history posts on everyday items, my dear. I knew some of the info you mentioned, such as its origin and its spread through Europe by the Spanish, but never knew about who discovered that the drink tasted better with milk or how instant hot chocolate came to be made.

    Thank you for teaching us so many new things.

    I love hot chocolate. My problem is I am lazy in the kitchen and hate to make things, so even popping milk into a corningware cup in the microwave seems to be too much effort and clean up for me. My boyfriend makes the hot chocolate around here. I much prefer tea- just fill the electric kettle with water, press down on the button on the boiler, and return in five minutes, mug and tea bag in hand. I've even weaned myself out of drinking it with sugar, therefore eliminating one step and feeling less guilty for drinking it as much as I do.

    Hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles is the absolute best.

  7. This is quite a neat thing. I like the ceramic chocolate pots - they look like they have flowers built into the top.

    I drink the stuff, but I'm not a huge fan. This surprises me because I love chocolate. Go figure. I'm not much of a hot beverage kind of person, believe it or not. I love tea, but only once it gets to room temp.

    You make me wonder what it tasted like fresh, without cocoa powder and all of the tinkering we've done to make it so tasty. And chilies. Mustn't forget the chilies. ;)
    I imagine that it might have tasted a little like coffee, only bitterer.

  8. Thanks everyone for all your lovely comments! :)
    I'm glad you find it interesting.
    @Le Professeur Gothique - I think that's neat that it's referred to as hot cocoa in New York and the guy picked up on it. It's funny how local terms can bring us together when we are in other places.
    @Unlacing the Victorians - I love your history posts to! I know that hot chocolate can be messy! Lol
    @Jill I wonder to what it would taste like with the chillies.
    @She wears Crazy Well I want a chocolate pot to!

  9. hummm chocolate *sigh* <3

    on the chili chocolate... how about that 90% coacoa chocolate grated and a bit of chili mixed together with hot water? i think that should be possible and i think tasty, too ^_^