The English perception of chocolate: from invigorating remedy to exotic indulgence, c. 1660 – 1760 by Emma Vickers
Chocolate arrived in England for the first time in the middle of the seventeenth century. Though marketed initially as a medical panacea, it was soon enjoyed as a sweet-tasting extravagance. In his treatise, The Indian Nectar (1662), Henry Stubbe promotes chocolate’s curative and stimulating properties.1 In contrast, R. Brunsden’s trade card (c. 1750-1760) advertises chocolate alongside other high-quality groceries. Together, these objects reflect the trajectory of chocolate as it moved from the medical into the commercial domain, and from the extraordinary to the familiar. Despite these developments, chocolate retained its exotic associations and remained linked to sophisticated and cultured taste. It is this paradox, the increased adoption of chocolate by ever-larger numbers coupled with its powerful connotations of exclusivity, that is explored through these two artefacts.