As far as we know, the first European to be served with a hot chocolate drink was the Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortez (1485 – 1547). When he first tasted this spicy drink, he was at the court of the Aztec emperor, Montezuma II. This beverage was a far cry from the ubiquitous hot drinking chocolate we have today. It was created with ground cacao beans, chilli peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, and black pepper. As there wasn’t any sugar cane then in Central America, it may have been sweetened, (if it was), with honey. Sugar cane wasn’t introduced into the South American continent until the mid-16th century.
Montezuma is reputed to have had a prodigious sexual appetite, and it is believed that the Aztecs believed that this could be attributed to the cacao bean along with the beverage. It is said that the emperor drank many goblets of hot chocolate, thus fuelling the belief that it was an aphrodisiac. The evidence for the link between chocolate and improved sexual performance is therefore purely anecdotal.
So, that’s where the belief that chocolate is an aphrodisiac has its origins. But is there any scientific proof for this claim?
Scientists say that there are two substances in chocolate and the cacao bean which may increase sexual desire; one is tryptophan, a precursor to the feel-good chemical serotonin. The second substance is phenylethylamine, which is a stimulant comparable to amphetamine. The latter material, phenylethylamine is released into the brain when people fall in love.
These substances are present in chocolate of all kinds in little doses, so it is extremely unlikely that chocolate really has any aphrodisiac qualities. Dark chocolate has marginally more of these that white and milk chocolate, apparently. Scientists have researched the claims, but have found no evidence to substantiate them.
That being said, however, most folks wouldn’t deny that eating chocolate, and letting it melt in your mouth, is a really pleasurable sensation. When we feel good, and are cosy and comfortable, we’re likely open to the possibilities of stimulation. If you’re not comfy and warm, you likely aren’t in the mood for any sort of dalliance. Think about all of the movies you have seen when a couple lie in front of a log fire on a sheepskin rug and end up in each other’s embrace.
Chocolate isn’t an aphrodisiac according scientists, but since it makes us feel relaxed and good, there’s some circumstantial evidence to suggest, however erroneously, that chocolate is an aphrodisiac.
Maybe we should all indulge in more chocolate and see what transpires!