Drinking chocolate kit
By the 18th century, chocolate – which had been brought over from Mexico two hundred years earlier – had a special place on the tables of European aristocrats. Although initially used for medicinal purposes, its taste and aroma gradually enticed people to start drinking it in the form of hot chocolate. People even said it had aphrodisiac powers, and a man's invitation to a lady 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, water, sugar 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.