Tag Archives: catholic church

Cocoa as Corruption: The False Association between Chocolate and Unholy Indulgence

The revered botanist, Carolus Linnaeus, gave the name Theobroma to the Mesoamerican cacao tree in 1753, which literally translates to “food of the gods.”[1] The appellation serves a dual function as it reflects both the rich taste as well as the storied past of chocolate. This history is a complex one involving countless players, chief among which were the people of the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations, the Spanish colonizers, and as I will further examine in this blog post, religious clerics. Centuries before chocolate could take its place as the universal delicacy it is today, chocolate had to overcome its reputation as the decadent indulgence that represented to many believers the evil lures of temptation. As this blogpost does contain a multimedia component, I will weave in two examples of contemporary film and literature which draw from this theme of chocolate being perceived as unholy temptation, and attempt to show how, in the broader scheme of history, religious institutions, (namely the Catholic Church), have often branded this semblance of pleasure and gratification as sinful. This false association has even permeated through modernity as the two examples I will be alluding to, Como Agua Para Chocolate (Laura Esquivel, 1989), and Chocolat (1999) are relatively recent in origin when compared to the early history of chocolate. I ultimately intend to argue that, despite the long strides that popular culture has made in the broader conceptualization of chocolate, there will always be those who cannot dissociate something so decadent with the allegedly wicked connotations they incur.

The ritual drinking of cacao depicted in the “Codex Borgia,” a Mesoamerican divinatory manuscript.

In ancient Mayan and Aztec times, cacao represented a vital life force and was incorporated into various rituals and sacred practices.[1] So how, one might ask, could chocolate have gone from being the “food of the gods” in one culture, to an enticement from the devil himself in the Catholic Church of the 16th and 17th centuries? As we’ve discussed in class, chocolate played an integral role in the history of early colonialism. The process of transculturation which resulted from resources being shared across nations and empires led to a blending of the “old” with the “new,” or more aptly, a blending of the native with the new. One of these transcultural changes began within the Catholic Church. Though Europeans stripped chocolate of its original ritualistic import, it came to take on new meanings, as a status symbol indicative of socioeconomic class, as homeopathic remedies that appealed to chocolate’s medicinal effects, and more. In the latter half of the 16th century however, the Catholic Church embarked on a quest to dictate which behaviors or attitudes were appropriate for the church, clergy, and the community of the faithful to uphold. Priests debated amongst themselves whether or not chocolate consumption should be allowed during church-mandated fasting days. According to Professor Carla Martin, these debates resulted in a resurfacing of the “pagan past” of chocolate.[2] Up until that point, the introduction of chocolate to western Europe had proven quite successful. Suddenly, with this remembrance of chocolate’s once pagan ritualistic significance, chocolate took on, perhaps for the first time, its ill-reputation as an immoral indulgence. Eventually, Pope Alexander VII declared in 1662 that chocolate did not, in fact, break the ritual fast, but this did not put a concrete end to the negative implications of chocolate consumption.[3]

Tita and Pedro’s gastronomical exchange in Laura Esquivel’s Como Agua Para Chocolate, 1989

In 1989, Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel published her best-selling book, Como Agua Para Chocolate, in English, Like Water for Chocolate. The book falls into the genre of magical realism, owing to the various supernatural themes scattered throughout the novel. Central to the plot is Tita, the youngest daughter of a traditional Mexican family that is endowed with an enchanted culinary gift. Through her intricate recipes, she is able to communicate her ardent love for her childhood sweetheart, a man who Tita’s mother has betrothed to her eldest sister despite his intention to marry Tita. The scene above depicts one of the more poignant episodes of Tita and Pedro’s gastronomical exchange and in it, Pedro even refers to Tita’s creation as the “food of the gods.” Although chocolate is not a part of the particular recipe in the chosen clip, it accentuates the theme of “indulgent” food being directly tied to evil since the delight Tita, Pedro, and Gertrudis take in the meal is representative of, if not the very mystical consummation of, the scandalous love affair between Tita and Pedro. The title of the book alludes to the law of heat in the science of cooking which refers to the fact that water must be brought to the brink of boiling multiple times before it can be introduced in the preparation of hot chocolate. In a similar fashion, Esquivel’s novel tells the tale of a fiery romance between Tita and Pedro which is only physically consummated after decades of suspense and sexual tension relayed between the two lovers in the form of Tita’s cooking. The implication being, food which incites pleasure is almost certainly bound to something more wicked, and as the channel for such pleasure, food is rendered itself sinful.

“Cacao as corruption” in the 2000 film adaptation, Chocolat.

Another contemporary example of this line of reasoning can be seen in the 1999 novel, (which inspired the eponymous 2000 film), Chocolat. The story follows the life of chocolatier, Vianne Rocher, who arrives to a small provincial town in France with her daughter to open up a chocolate shop. With this repressed French village in 1959 as its setting, Vianne’s arrival into town at the beginning of the Lenten season does not bode well with the hyper-orthodox Catholic mayor, Reynaud. Joanne Harris, the author of the 1999 novel, depicts her protagonist as a progressive free-spirit who does not ascribe to religious conventions and who has an illegitimate child who she rears in quite a liberal fashion. The construction of her character as such makes it easy for the traditional mayor to chastise Vianne for her immoral behavior in tempting the townspeople during the ecclesial time of abstinence and abnegation. In the above clip, Judi Dench’s character confesses to the crime of “corrupting with cocoa,” to which her daughter responds indignantly. The villagers, for the most part, agree that Vianne’s chocolatier trade is sinful in origin, content, and aim. However, in the end, even the righteous Reynaud succumbs to the temptation of chocolate in the memorable scene linked below.

“Giving into temptation,” the conservative mayor, Reynaud finally succumbs to the temptation of Vianne’s chocolate confections.

In conclusion, I think it can safely be speculated that some people will always confine themselves to their own traditional conceptions, intent on making their own distinctions between the sacred and the profane. Speaking as someone who was raised in a very conservative, Catholic household (and who still today holds a special place in her heart for the Catholic faith), I have seen this relationship been drawn time and time again between the object of pleasure and the direct source of evil. I, however, am of the persuasion that to write the sweet treat off simply because a religion promotes self-denying practices is no reason to render chocolate evil in all its forms. I confess that over-indulgence of anything typically errs on the side of gluttony, which crosses the line into problematic territory when it comes to Judeo-Christian convention, but even being the proud, believing Catholic that I am, I would confidently affirm that moderation is key, and I for one, will not be giving up chocolate anytime soon.

[1] Coe, S.D., and Coe, M.D. “The True History of Chocolate.” 1996. 17

[2] Coe, S.D., and Coe, M.D. “The True History of Chocolate.” 1996. 39

[3] Dallas, Kelsey. “The Little-Known Relationship between Religion and Chocolate.” Deseret News. Deseret News, February 8, 2015. https://www.deseret.com/2015/2/8/20558143/the-little-known-relationship-between-religion-and-chocolate.

[4] “When the Church Said ‘No’ to Chocolate.” When the Church said “No” to chocolate: Mexico Cuisine. Accessed March 25, 2020. https://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1469-when-the-church-said-no-to-chocolate.

Multimedia Cited:

Cacao in Ancient Maya Religion. Accessed March 25, 2020. https://www.mexicolore.co.uk/maya/chocolate/cacao-in-ancient-maya-religion.

The early history of chocolate. Accessed March 25, 2020. https://www.mexicolore.co.uk/maya/chocolate/early-history-of-chocolate.

Miramax. “Chocolat | ‘Chocolatier or Confessional’ (HD) – Judi Dench, Juliette Binoche | MIRAMAX.” Youtube video, 2:39. December 1, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNTSrAB0uKM

Miramar. “Chocolat | ‘Giving In to Temptation’ (HD) – Alfred Molina | MIRAMAX.” Youtube video, 3:42. December 1, 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVX4EtCXiv4

Movie clips. “Like Water for Chocolate (3/12) Movie CLIP – Tita’s Magical Meal (1992) HD.” Youtube video, 2:42. September 29, 2011. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4aMxMg0Vn0

Chocolate, Social Class, and Religion in Enlightenment Europe

Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate drinking in Eighteenth Century Europe

Across the countries of Enlightenment era Europe, elites distinguished themselves from other social classes through their exclusive social and consumption practices—musical evenings with private orchestras, fluency in multiple languages, and international travel as exemplified in the Grand Tour of the Continent’s most fascinating historical sites (Jacob, 2016). These class-defining practices notably included the drinking of chocolate as a beverage. Taken this way, chocolate “had been an elite drink among the copper-skinned, befeathered Mesoamericans”—i.e. the Olmecs and Mayans who first invented the idea of processing cacao beans into a chocolate drink—and it “stayed that way among the white-skinned, perfumed, bewigged, overdressed royalty and nobility of Europe” (Coe and Coe, 2019).

The relationship between chocolate consumption and the social position, ideology and religion of particular individuals in the Enlightenment period is not a simple one, however. While chocolate was clearly an elite drink that was also associated with the Catholic church, a more detailed investigation of consumption patterns and preferences among Enlightenment individuals shows that we cannot simply read off a person’s social position, religious outlook or ideological commitments from their beverage consumption preferences—nor vice versa. To try to do so would lead to serious error, and to understand the situations and choices of particular individuals it is necessary to look at the meanings they attached to various beverages, and the compromises they may have made in regard to their values, in a more nuanced way.

The Enlightenment period is considered to have been approximately coextensive with the 18th century in Europe (Robertson, 2015). Why did chocolate remain associated with the social elite in general over such a long period of time, in countries from Spain and Italy to France and England? Part of the answer is illuminated when we examine the slow progress made during the 18th century toward making chocolate more affordable through mechanical manufacture. Although Europeans had first become familiar with imbibing chocolate during the Renaissance, as late as 1772 the famous Encycopédie compiled by Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert depicted contemporary methods of chocolate manufacture that had barely advanced from those of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica (Coe and Coe, 2019).

In fact, some modest advances in mechanizing chocolate manufacture did occur during the Enlightenment period, notably in Great Britain’s American colonies, as well as in France. In 1765, a Massachusetts chocolate-making firm began used water power to grind cocoa beans, and in 1776 a hydraulic machine that could reduce chocolate to paste was invented in France (Morton and Morton, 1986). But it was not until the second quarter of the 19th century, with the invention of a new process of cacao refinement in Holland, that things really began to change (Coe and Coe, 2019).

This stagnation in technological progress helped to keep chocolate expensive during the Enlightenment era—and consequently out of reach middle class consumers, who had little choice but to choose cheaper drinks—notably coffee—instead. In the coffee-houses of 18th century Venice, for example, a cup of chocolate cost three times the price of a cup of coffee (Coe and Coe, 2019). In consequence, coffee remained by far the more popular drink in the Serene Republic.

Caffè Florian in Venice survives from the Eighteenth Century

This consumption pattern was not repeated across other Italian cities, however. In Rome and Naples chocolate remained the drink of choice. The foundation for Venice’s distinctive preference for coffee would appear to lie in the city’s historical success as a seafaring, trading republic that had first made its fortune as the gateway to Europe at the western terminus of the Silk Route (Norwich, 2012). The commercial origins of Venice’s wealth resulted in a civic culture dominated by its mercantile class, a social reality we see reflected in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. By contrast, in other Italian cities, most notably in the papal city of Rome and at the Vatican itself, chocolate was consumed heavily. The situation was similar in Naples, which was ruled by the Spanish branch of the royal Bourbon dynasty. The dominance of these latter cities by royal and aristocratic elites has been implicated by their citizens’ prevailing preference for chocolate over coffee, in contrast to the coffee-oriented beverage culture of Venice (Coe and Coe, 2019).

An image of Voltaire (with raised arm), Condorcet (seated at the right) and other philosophes discussing at the Café Procope in Paris

These differing patterns in chocolate consumption helped to justify the outlook of anti-clerical radicals of the era, who associated chocolate drinking with the oppressive Catholic Church (Coe and Coe, 2019). This does not mean, however, that all such radicals eschewed chocolate drinking. The case of Voltaire, perhaps the greatest anti-clerical thinker of the age, is instructive in this regard. While we might expect Voltaire to have been very much a coffee-drinker on the basis of his social position and ideological orientation, there is considerable evidence for his liking of chocolate as well as coffee. It is recorded, for example, that when Prussia’s young music- and art-loving king Frederick the Great invited the old philosophe to stay with him in 1740, much chocolate was imbibed by both (Sorel, 1998). Moreover, Voltaire maintained a liking for chocolate, as well as coffee, to the end of his life. The Marquis de Condorcet, youngest of the great philosophes, visited the elderly Voltaire at his estate at Ferney near Geneva in 1770. Condorcet later recorded that “a dozen cups of coffee mixed with chocolate” constituted “the only nourishment which M. de Voltaire took from five in the morning till three in the afternoon” (Condorcet, 2020). Even after the French Revolution, Voltaire appears to have “remained sufficiently of the ancien régime to prefer his morning chocolate … over all other hot drinks” (Coe and Coe, 2019). This was despite the cacao for the chocolate having being produced by slave labor.

Nor was chocolate automatically the preferred choice of the religiously inclined. Many of the musical compositions of Johan Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) that ostensibly appear entirely secular arguably bear the distinctive imprint of his Lutheran piety (Gaines, 2005). Moreover, although Bach’s life extended well into the Enlightenment era, his religious commitments appear to have made him resist the period’s secularized, religion-questioning avant garde culture. This caused tensions during his visit with Frederick the Great in 1747, when the old composer’s religious temperament led him to clash fiercely with the young king’s advanced Enlightenment outlook (Gaines, 2005). For Bach, chocolate may have been associated less with the Catholic church than with elite social, artistic and intellectual preferences that he would have regarded as questionable, to say the least. This is speculative and asks for further investigation. But perhaps differences in Bach’s and Frederick’s preferred beverages accentuated, or at least reflected, their intellectual and religious differences. At all events, while Bach wrote a cantata in praise of coffee, he wrote nothing about chocolate (Coe and Coe, 2019).

Works cited:

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. Thames and Hudson, 2019

Condorcet, Nicholas. Life of Voltaire. Web. 6 March 2020


Gaines, James R. Evening in the Palace of Reason: Bach Meets Frederick the Great in the Age of Enlightenment. Harper Perennial 2006

Jacob, Margaret. The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford/St. Martins 2016

Julius, John. A History of Venice. Viking 2013

Morton, Marcia, and Frederic Morton. Chocolate: An Illustrated History. Outlet 1988

Robertson, John. The Enlightenment: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press 2015

Sorel, Nancy. First Encounters: A Book of Memorable Meetings. Random House 1998

Chocolate vs. The Catholic Church

Chocolate Easter Eggs

When you think of Easter, whether you are Christian or not, the content in the image seen above is familiar.

Easter is a Christian religious holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but today it has also become a period of time where individuals eat specialized chocolate treats sold only during this time of year. One cannot think about Easter without thinking of chocolate eggs or chocolate bunnies stacking the shelves of supermarkets and drug stores similar to the image below.

Easter Chocolate Being Sold in a Store

With chocolate being such a strong component of the Christian holiday of Easter, it is difficult to believe that when chocolate was first discovered by Spain in the 16th century, the Catholic Church attempted to marginalize the new foodstuff because of their initial inability to classify it and determine its relationship with the ecclesiastical fast. Social, economic, and cultural factors help explain why the cacao crop was not completely destroyed and dictate why the relationship between chocolate and the Catholic Church is what it is today.

During the time of this debate, a fast was defined as withholding from ingesting any nourishment between midnight and Holy Communion, with the exception of drinking to allay thirst as long as the liquid did not provide any nourishment (5). Because cacao can be prepared in many different ways and take on both a solid and liquid form, the main question was whether or not chocolate was a liquid or a solid. If it were deemed a food or a solid, if one consumed chocolate during a period of fasting then one would be committing a mortal sin. The controversy was even more complex because of the numerous nutritional ingredients that can be added to chocolate, including maize. Mexican physician Juan de Cárdenas began the debate in Mexico in 1591 by interpreting the word “drink” in two different ways. He states that one way to think about the word is anything drinkable and therefore permitted to be consumed during the fast. But another way is to consider it a liquid that is intended to refresh and quench thirst. Cádenas concluded that chocolate in any form breaks the fast because the intention behind fasting is to deny the human body of food and nutrition (1). There were many other arguments put forward over time in order to settle this debate. Dominican friar Agust´ın Davila Padilla wrote in favor of consuming chocolate during the ecclesiastical fast. This ruling was favored among some members of the Church because it lessened the moral dilemma of taking chocolate (5). Later, around 1636, Spaniard Antonio de León Pinelo produced a book stating that the solution depended on the added ingredients. If chocolate were concocted with plain water, it was merely a drink and did not break the fast (5). Individuals continued to put forth arguments, which left some discontented and others pleased.

Factors contributing to the debate extend beyond religious ones due to chocolate’s strong social influence. The complexity of this argument and chocolate’s power is illustrated in the story of Bishop Don Bernardino de Salazar who, in 1625, with the backing of the Spanish government and the Catholic Church, prevented the consumption of chocolate during the celebration of mass. He argued that the consumption during mass was not only distracting but also drew attention away from worshipping and praising God properly (5). The peninsulares, Spanish Catholic women in Latin America, had their maids deliver them chocolate during mass. When the bishop threatened excommunication, they simply chose to attend their neighborhood cathedrals instead of giving up taking chocolate during mass. Soon after, the bishop passed away after consuming chocolate himself. Because it is so well known that chocolate is a great vessel to deliver poison, it is rumored that he was poisoned to death.

The economic value of cacao beans to Spain and the Catholic Church ensured that chocolate did not disappear as a result of this debate and was a strong attributing factor in the stance certain groups took on the matter. The Jesuits, a denomination of Christianity, supported that chocolate was a liquid and could not break any fast because of their own stakes in the cacao trade (3). In addition, the Spanish Crown used cacao beans as a commodity for taxation, and the Catholic Church profited from the forced labor and tribute of the native inhabitants that cultivated the cacao beans (5).

Four Molinillos: A Tool Used to Create Froth in Chocolate Beverages
A Mancerina: Used by the Spanish to “Take Chocolate”

Furthermore, chocolate took on cultural significance in Spain. Chocolate was a luxury product that “became a ritual around which an entire consumer culture developed” (5). Special instruments and material objects like the ones seen in the image above and to the right lent a certain protocol to the act of “taking chocolate” (5), as the Spanish referred to it. The molinillo was vital in the preparation of the chocolate beverage, creating a strongly desired froth on the top. The mancerina, used to hold the chocolate beverage, exhibits chocolate’s status as an extravagant commodity .

After centuries of debating, the Catholic Church was forced to take a stance. In 1662 the Vatican ended the stalemate when Cardinal Francisco Maria Brancaccio declared that: “Beverages do not break the fast, since wine, being as it is so nutritious, does not break it. The same applies to cacao beverage” (2). In 1664 Italian Francesco Maria Brancaccio examined this decision stating that because fasting is not divine law, it is subject to change and should be changed to accommodate the fine chocolate beverage (2). Fortunately, consuming chocolate was deemed to not be a mortal sin nor break the ecclesiastical fast. Today when one thinks of fasting, one does not consider that chocolate was ever part of the discussion. Although chocolate and the Catholic Church used to be in conflict, they are now in a harmonious relationship. The Easter holiday is a time when chocolate sales peak. In 2015 $823 million in chocolate was bought the week before Easter (4). Without this holiday, special chocolate treats would not be sold in mass quantities, and without chocolate, many would not recognize Easter. It is because of chocolate’s initial social, economic, and cultural influence that it is still around today and exists in harmony with Christian holidays.

Works Cited:

  1. Coe, Sophie D. The True History of Chocolate. 3rd ed. London: Thames & Hudson, 2013.
  2. De Orellana, Margarita, Clara Marín, Salvador Reyes Equiguas, Quentin Pope, Anahí Luna, Martha Few, Johanna Kufer, Nikolai Grube, Michael Heinrich, Michelle Suderman, Jorge Betanzos, Timothy Adès, José Luis Trueba Lara, Rafael Vargas, and Guadalupe Loaeza. “Chocolate III: RITUAL, ART AND MEMORY.” Artes De México, no. 110 (2013): 91. Accessed March 8, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/24318995.
  3. De Orellana, Margarita, Quentin Pope, Sonia Corcuera Mancera, José Luis Trueba Lara, Jana Schroeder, Laura Esquivel, Jill Derais, Mario Humberto Ruz, Clara Marín, Miguel León-Portilla, Michelle Suderman, Marta Turok, Mario M. Aliphat Fernández, Laura Caso Barrera, Sophie D. Coe, Michael D. Coe, and Pedro Pitarch. “CHOCOLATE II: Mysticism and Cultural Blends.” Artes De México, no. 105 (2012): 73-96. Accessed March 6, 2020. www.jstor.org/stable/24319003.
  4. Fahey, Mark. “The Easter Bunny Is the King of Candy Sales.” CNBC. CNBC, March 24, 2016. https://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/24/easter-wins-the-candy-battle.html.
  5. Forrest, Beth Marie, and April L Najjaj. “Is Sipping Sin Breaking Fast? The Catholic Chocolate Controversy and the Changing World of Early Modern Spain.” Food and Foodways 15, no. 1-2 (2007): 34-43.

Church and Chocolate – The Turbulent Relationship of the two C’s

The strength of the Catholic Church and their presence in Europe is a commonly known fact, and it’s something that still holds true today.  Through the shrewd political tactics during the turmoil of the middle ages, the Catholic Church’s religious influence over western Europe became all encompassing (Hanson, 24-26). As someone who grew up in a religious household, the idea that chocolate would be a point of contention within the church was not just fascinating, but almost incomprehensible without a deeper understanding of what chocolate stood for when it was first introduced.

With the discovery of chocolates that came from the New World, questions began emerging within the church. Was this pagan beverage something that they supported or denounced? Would this beverage be beneficial to their influence or be a thorn on their side? It should be noted that when chocolate’s influence started rising in Europe, the Catholic Church was going through their own upheaval of what we now know as the Reformation, or the religious wars (Coe, 137).  They were struggling with the emergence of the Protestant wave and trying to maintain their borders and influence over the members that were unhappy with what the church represented.

This post isn’t to argue whether or not the church’s continuous changes in stance of chocolate was right or wrong, but to highlight how the discovery of chocolate brought about not just socioeconomic changes, but religious changes as well.

Fasting, Women and Poison

While there is no real record of when exactly chocolate reached Europe, but the first appearance takes place in Spain (Coe, 129-128). Making its way through the royal courts and nobility, the popularity of this beverage spiraled. This is also when the questions of chocolate and its relationship with the church began coming into question.

In 1636 Antonio de León Pinelo asked the question, “Where does chocolate fit into our moral and religious system?” (Martin, pp. 23).  Looking further back, we see that even before, there was a Dominican friar who had formally asked the pope whether or not chocolate was okay to consume during fast. It is stated that the pope merely had a good laugh with the cardinals regarding this question and did not even bother to write a response. So, why would this have been an issue? The church’s dilemma came from several issues: this was a beverage from a pagan colony that did not believe in their God, this chocolate beverage was often used as a meal substitute, and the products that were mixed in to the chocolate beverages could count as a type of food.

Treatise by Leon Pinelo. Madrid, 1636.

The question about the consumption of chocolate, which was mostly in liquid form at the time, actually became a legitimate debate as time went by.  Jesuits, who had wholly accepted chocolate and were already using it as a tool for trades and investments, were for everything chocolate. Yet, the Dominicans who were much more puritanical and traditional, argued that the whole point of fast was to purify the body of food and thirst quenching liquids and thus chocolate should not be allowed (Coe, 148). Despite the fact that chocolate (once with the addition of sugar to subdue the bitterness of it) became a favorite amongst the cardinals and the pope, who declared that it was OK to consume during fast, many puritanical priests still held on to the idea that chocolate was not okay.

There was also the issue that chocolate had such strong ties to women, and the status was women was always a point of contention in the church (Martin, Lecture 3).  Since chocolate was prepared by women, the church initially felt that it was almost inappropriate for it to be enjoyed by men, especially during fast.  The church also probably felt threatened of their power when European women in Latin Americas, who had grown up away from Europe, did not listen to the sermons that were conducted in these colonies and instead chose to gossip right outside the church drinking chocolate while the priests were speaking (Martin, Lecture 3). It isn’t hard to see why the church began to perceive the presence as a threat to their ideals and their teachings.

Raimundo_Madrazo_-_Hot_Chocolate“Hot Chocolate”. Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta, 1884-1885.

Also, the idea that chocolate was not a “Gift of God”, but perhaps something more sinister came to be with with the perceived murder of Pope Clement XIV.  Because chocolate had become sweeter and the taste was so strong, it was thought as the ideal vessel for poison.  When it was rumored that the pope was slowly poisoned to death through his favorite beverage, the consumption of chocolate within the church was also soured. Even though the rumor was eventually debunked, the idea that chocolate could be used as a tool of weapon made people much more wary of it.

The Society of Jesus

However, if there was a group of strong advocates for chocolate within the church, it was the Jesuits. The Jesuits were both feared and disliked by people inside and outside the church. This was mostly linked to their history as the militant arms of the church but also due to their large success in using slavery in the New World for their own profit. They captured and used forced labor on the locals to harvest large amounts of not just tobacco and cotton, but also cacao beans for their own monetary gains (Moss, 29).

The Jesuit missionaries tried to take this success past the Americas and Europe into parts of Asia. They wanted to repeat the success they had found in the New World and expand to China and other parts of the East. While they were mostly unsuccessful, they did find large amounts of success in the Philippines. As the Philippines became a Spanish colony, using the influence of the Catholic religion, they also introduced chocolate as a source of beverage and food as well.  The country, still to this day, enjoy copious amounts of chocolate and tend to have a lot of chocolate based food and beverages during the Christmas holidays.

Malagos Chocolate (Philippine Chocolate Brand). Malagos webpage.

Works Cited:

Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The true history of chocolate. Thames and Hudson, 2013.

de Madrazo y Garreta, Raimundo; featured image. 1884-1885. Private collection. Oil on canvas. http://www.artnet.com/artists/raimundo-de-madrazo-y-garreta/hot-chocolate-806TPfsQ-L3wKppXQc2LlA2

Hanson, Eric O. Catholic church in world politics. Princeton University Press, 2016.

Malagos Chocolate; featured image. 2016. Malagos Facebook Page.

Martin, Carla. 2018 AAAS E-119 Lecture Slides. February 7th, pp.23, 25.

Martin, Carla. 2018 AAAS E-119 Lecture 3. Chocolate Expansion. February 7th.

Moss, Sarah, and Alexander Badenoch. Chocolate: A Global History. Reaktion Books, 2009.

Pinelo, Leon; featured image. Madrid, 1636.