The words, “hot chocolate,” conjure up rosy-faced children, fresh from sledding, consuming steaming beverages.
Or lady BFFs indulging in chocolaty froth during bonding sessions that have baffled men since forever.
Speaking of men, when was the last time you saw one order hot chocolate at Starbucks? Or anywhere?
They drink mocha lattes with whipped cream. Perhaps eggnog or hot buttered rum in similar foamy dress.
But hot chocolate?
Perish the frou-frou thought.
Yet throughout centuries, warriors and adventurers have favored chocolate beverages. Made with cacao beans and water, xocolātl was considered sacred by ancient Mayans.
The real chocoholic, though, was an Aztec: Montezuma II. He drank 50 golden goblets of bitter chocolate — often spiked with chili peppers — daily to emphasize his wealth, power and virility. Did Montezuma impress the ladies with his chugging ability?
Maybe. He certainly kept the keepers of the royal chamber pots busy.
Visiting Spaniards decided Montezuma shouldn’t keep this fabulous drink — or his kingdom — to himself. After the conquest, Hernán Cortés recommended Aztec chocolate to European friends. The Spanish, who preferred their chocolate heated (the Aztecs drank it cold), doctored it with cream and spices. Soon, chocolate houses appeared all over Europe.
Chocolate’s strong flavor disguised additives that caught the attention of Inquisition authorities. Associated with witchcraft and seduction, those chocolate scenarios weren’t so sweet.
Hot chocolate’s changeable reputation didn’t detract from its ability to nourish Ninja-types. American soldiers have been issued chocolate/cocoa since the Revolutionary War. Roald Amundsen, not content with freezing his bones in his native Norway, took huge quantities of cocoa to the South Pole. More recently, when American Will Steger and company made the first 4,000-mile dog-sled trip across Antarctica, they consumed 2,000 cups.
Hot-chocolate courage doesn’t always make headlines. Who can deny the heroics of three Washington kids who, with their mighty hot chocolate stand, raised $100 for the hungry?
However, hot-chocolate fans occasionally get in trouble. Take, for example, the homeless Oregon man who soaked in someone else’s hot tub. According to The Oregonian, he yelled for towels, a hug and hot chocolate with marshmallows.
The Inquisition would have loved that one.
Fortunately, hot chocolate’s still fun for sledding kids. For women who bond over anything chocolaty and chatty. For men who dare sneak Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa at Starbucks when nobody’s looking.
Heroic for all who scrape icy windshields, shovel driveways — and those of others — then drive icy roads to work. Even for writers who ditch calorie-less black coffee and drink hot chocolate, a truly heroic effort to experience research firsthand.
In the name of bravery, adventure and double whipped cream, hot chocolate warriors, let’s raise our steaming mugs high.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hot chocolate recipe?