George I's Hot Chocolate Obsession

We might snuggle up with a cup of frothy hot chocolate of a cold evening, but can you imagine King George I doing it too? 

Turns out he was quite taken with hot chocolate, a new drink, back then, from South America. 

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash (with permission)

On a visit to Hampton Court in November 2019, I got to see the king's chocolate kitchen (imagine having a kitchen dedicated just to chocolate?). It's fairly small, consists of two rooms  - one for storing and one for processing the chocolate and where his own, private chocolatier Thomas Tosier would create the recipes. If you can get to Hampton Court do go and see it. 

George asked for his chocolate drink to be served to him both when he was in his palaces, and also when he was away. In Newmarket in 1717, he asked for "chockalet, tea and coffee for the Company gameing in the lodgings..." (1)

The original hot chocolate that George I would have known wasn't quite the milky, sweet hot chocolate loaded with marshmallows and syrup that we know today. Back then, the recipe was a little more savoury. 

A recipe that was brought to England a few decades earlier in 1652 by Captain James Wadsworth praises this 'wholesome and good' beverage, calling it 'Chocolate, An Indian Drinke'. One version contained cacao, long red pepper, aniseed, cinnamon, almonds, hazelnuts and sugar. And he gave the instructions on how to make it as:

"you trow a Tablet, or some Chocolate, scraped, and mingled with sugar, into a little cup; and when the water is hot, you poure the water to the Chocolate, and then dissolve it with the Molinet, and then without taking off the scum, drink it as is before directed." (2)

It's likely that George's hot chocolate would therefore been a lot more bitter-tasting and purer than we know it today, and probably quite highly-spiced with the pepper and aniseed. It would also have been more watery and strong, and less milky and sweet, at least at first. 

Are you surprised that hot chocolate was drunk in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Have you tried an authentic older recipe? Let me know in the comments!

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(1) Futurelearn Course - Royal Food. Accessed 20 March 2020. 
(2) Gutenberg Project. Chocolate, An Indian Drinke, 1652. Captain James Wandsworth. Accessed 20 March 2020.