Chocolate milk! This yummy beverage Whether served hot or cold, this yummy treat has become a sweet staple around the globe. The simple combination of milk and chocolate however has some surprising Caribbean origins. Historians today can trace back the original concoction to a Jamaican origin.
The British Natural History Museum credits the recipe to an Irish botanist, Sir Hans Sloane. In the 1700s, Sloan stayed in Jamaica, and reported drinking a cocoa drink given to hime by the natives. He however “found it ‘nauseous,’ but by mixing it with milk made it more palatable,” the museum says. On returning to England, Sloane brought his bright idea of mixing cocoa and milk back with him. The mix became marketed as a medicine for years.
Of course, this story gets a little more complicated among experts. Many argue chocolate milk likely wasn’t invented by the European credited for its discovery. Historian Jame Delbougo reports that Jamaicans made “a hot beverage brewed from shavings of freshly harvested cacao, boiled with milk and cinnamon” as far back as 1494.
Humans have possible known the Cacao plant as far back as 1500 B.C. in Central and South America. According to curator Hayes Lavis of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, ancient Olmec pots and vessels contained traces of theobromine, a stimulant compound found in chocolate and tea.
But chocolate most famously became a prized plant to the Mayans and Aztecs. They traditionally blended cocoa into a frothy drink with spices and honey. Following European colonization, however the conquistadors did not know what to do with cacao until the pillaging of the Aztecs by Cortez in 1516. Cortez reportedly had the same reaction that Sloane did to the bitter cocoa drink, and added sugar and spices to it to neutralize the taste.
Jamaican Chocolate Milk Now:
Today, Jamaicans enjoy a mixture of both styles in their traditional chocolate tea recipe, which mixes sweetened condensed milk with spices like cinnamon leaf, nutmeg and pimento. You can try out this old time recipe here from Jamaicans.com.