Each year on January 31st, National Hot Chocolate Day warms up people across the country by celebrating the timeless cold-weather beverage.
Hot chocolate is a warm beverage made with ground chocolate, heated milk or water, and sugar. In America, we often use the terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa interchangeably. However, the two beverages are different.
Cocoa vs Hot Chocolate
We make hot cocoa with cocoa powder, heated milk or water, and sugar. We’re able to do this thanks to a process developed by father and son chemists. For the thicker, more flavorful beverage, we make hot chocolate from ground chocolate containing cocoa butter. It is also called drinking chocolate. Hot chocolate has also been around longer than hot cocoa. In the early 1800s, Casparus van Houten Sr. developed a process to separate the cocoa solids from the butter. His son, Coenraad Johannes made those fats more soluble in water. Together their processes made cocoa powder possible.
But before then, everyone drank hot chocolate. This thicker, creamier beverage often offered medicinal benefits for stomach ailments during the 19th century. In fact, long before the beverage’s popularity in Victorian times, it served in ceremonial culture.
However, humans have been drinking chocolate for a long time. The Mayans likely created the first chocolate beverage 2000 years ago. The Aztecs also included a cocoa beverage as an essential part of their culture by 1400 AD. When Europeans began exploring Central and South America, explorers brought chocolate and the beverage back with them to Europe from Mexico.
Make it and Benefit
Hot chocolate can be enjoyed in a variety of combinations, topped with whipped cream or marshmallows. Sometimes a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dash of peppermint makes the chocolate extra special. In the United States, many people enjoy an instant form of hot chocolate. It is made with hot water or milk and a packet containing mostly cocoa powder, sugar, and dry milk.
There are health benefits to drinking hot chocolate. Cocoa contains significant amounts of antioxidants that may help prevent cancer. Studies have shown the flavonoids in chocolate may have a positive effect on arterial health and memory.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL HOT CHOCOLATE DAY
- Make some hot chocolate.
- Add a variety of toppings.
- Invite a friend to join you for hot chocolate.
- Sample different flavors of hot chocolate.
- Taste the difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa.
- Take a photo and use #NationalHotChocolateDay to post on social media.