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On view at the Museum: The Society Sector

Drinking chocolate kit

Modern Era, Europe

By the 18th century, chocolate – which had been brought from Mexico two hundred years earlier – had a special place on the tables of European aristocrats. Although initially used for medicinal purposes, people gradually began drinking it, because of its taste and aroma, in the form of hot chocolate. People even said it had aphrodisiac powers, and an invitation to a lady from a man to have a cup with him left no doubts about his intentions.

The items required to make hot chocolate were often assembled in a nécessaire. This 18th-century kit from the Museum’s collection is a fine example: the leather case, embroidered with silver thread, contains a cup and saucer, a whisk and four metal containers for chocolate, watersugar and probably spices. At the time, chocolate was placed in hot water and slowly dissolved. Sugar, and spices such as vanilla and cinnamon, were added. The wooden whisk was used to make the chocolate light and frothy.


Cooking, eating, purchasing, digesting, 2003.  Vevey: Alimentarium, p. 123.


  • Type: Case
  • Place of origin: France
  • Materials and techniques: Leather Wood Porcelain Pewter
  • Date: circa 1750
  • Dimensions: 17 x 25 x 16.5 cm
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