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Researching the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site of Canada
  Recherche sur la Forteresse-de-Louisbourg Lieu historique national du Canada


Extracts of Matters of Historical Interest from "The Huissier, News For and About the Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff" By The Fortress of Louisbourg Heritage Presentation Staff


(June 23, 2004)

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In the 18th century, chocolate
came in many forms, including
rolls, balls, and sticks.


By Ruby Powell, Collections Technician

An unrecognised essential food group in my opinion! The Ancient Olmec, Mayan and Aztec cultures are believed to be the first to enjoy the delicious beverage. It was known as the drink of the Gods - and who could argue? The word chocolate was made up of two words in the Aztec language Choco (sound) and Alte or Atte (water) "water rendering from a sound" because of the noise the mill made while stirring the liquid.

Chocolate made its way to Europe through Spanish explorer Hernan Cortez who, when on a conquest of Mexico, found the Aztecs drinking the bitter liquid. He brought the beans to the Spanish Court where the drink was eventually modified and heated to heighten the flavour. Only the wealthy could afford to enjoy the beverage and the recipe remained a secret for approximately 100 years.

As Spanish royalty intermarried with other European royal families, they brought chocolate with them. The secret finally got out and it did not take long for the drink to spread throughout Europe. By the early 18th century, chocolate factories were in full production and the price of chocolate dropped.

Manufactured chocolate was prepared or unprepared. Prepared chocolate likely referred to cacao beans that had been crushed to a paste and flavoured prior to the rolling and drying process, while unprepared chocolate likely referred to the beans being crushed into a paste and formed without additives (Governor Duquesnel had both types). Jacques Savary mentions unprepared chocolate being imported from St. Malo and Nantes in the form of "bailles" (balls) each weighing two livres.

Chocolate was produced and sold by confectioners in small one-ounce balls, tablets or truffles as well as a hot beverage. Chocolate covered almonds, commonly referred to as "des Diablotins" meaning "little Devils", were also produced and sold by the livre. The price of chocolate fluctuated slightly depending on the terms of sale, whether it was prepared or unprepared and how it was packaged (carton; 2 livre or 1 livre ball, sticks, flat tablets, loaves, small one ounce balls or other forms weighing a livre). It was imported from New England, France and the Isles in 1737, 1743, 1752, 1753 and 1754. It is also listed are several historical inventories.

Chocolate could be eaten or served as a drink. It was fashionable, taken at any time of the day, and was enjoyed by the 18th century residents of Louisbourg.

For the academic references to this article, contact Blaine Aitkens at Heritage Presentation.