The history of chocolate baskets as a gift

Beautiful box of chocolate

3 min read

Giving and receiving chocolate on special days like Valentine’s Day makes for a sumptuous surprise but it got us thinking, how was this tradition started? We’ve done a little bit of research and investigation to find out the answer to that question and we found that a chocolate basket as a gift has a lot more history than we ever realised.

Chocolate: A gift from the gods

The story of chocolate itself really started in Mesoamerica where it was a drink enjoyed by the elite class of the Aztec and Mayan world. We don’t know the exact dates of when chocolate was first invented but what we do know is that evidence of fermented drinks made from cocoa dating back to 1900 BCE exists; It is truly ancient! The Aztec themselves said that the sweet smooth tasting blend was, in fact, a gift from the serpent-bird god of wind and learning, Quetzalcoatl. It is said that he flew from the sky dropping some cacao beans, a preserve of the gods only, as a gift for humanity. It was in this way, giving chocolate as a gift really started from its inception. The beans alone were highly prized by the Aztec and Mayan people of the nearby regions, even being used as currency in some cases.

Chocolate: A gift from the new world

A chocolate basket was actually said to have been a gift given to Christopher Columbus on one of his early voyages to Mesoamerica and the Aztec civilisation by an Indian chief although this story is a little hard to confirm. What is known is that he and the other conquistadors had observed chocolate’s value to the local inhabitants, even going as far as to take some cacao beans back to Spain. At this time, however, he had no idea what to do with the mysterious, valuable seeds, that he referred to as almonds at first. Many of the early conquistadors like Hernan Cortez also observed chocolate, or xocoatl as the locals referred to it, being enjoyed in the court of Montezuma and was even presented with a gift of xoxoatl during his time there.

Chocolate: A gift of kings and nobility

Once European chefs had got their heads around how to make chocolate from the bitter and tough cacao beans they came from, the treat exploded in popularity around the continent. One of the first examples of this was when Anne of Spain married Louis XIII of France in 1615. She presented her new husband with the mysterious exotic drink from the New World, which soon became a huge hit amongst the French court. It wasn’t long before fellow royals and aristocrats across the continent were gorging themselves on as much as they could get their hands on.

Finally, Chocolate: A gift for your sweetheart

Chocolate is now no longer only an elite pleasure. Everyone today can enjoy chocolate whether it be as food or as a drink. The tradition of the box of chocolates or chocolate basket as we know it today goes back as far as 1853 when the Cadbury company took advantage of falling import costs and created the first box of chocolates. It benefitted also from the rising popularity of Valentine’s Day as a gift giving holiday and they started to sell chocolate in attractive patterned boxes. Thus beginning the trend we know so well today and the holiday and sweet treats like chocolate were forever joined in a synergetic matrimony.

If you know someone with a sweet tooth who would appreciate a chocolate basket or gift basket today then click here to send some flowers and a sweet treat to celebrate a birthday or anniversary. It’s not only gods and kings giving these treats today after all.