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 hot drink, he was in the court of the Aztec emperor, Montezuma II. This beverage was a far cry from the ubiquitous hot drinking chocolate we have now. It was created with ground cacao beans, chilli peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, and black pepper. As there was no sugar cane then in Central America, it might have been sweetened, (if it was), with honey. Sugar cane wasn’t introduced into the South American continent before the mid-16th century.
Montezuma is reputed to have had a prodigious sexual appetite, and it’s believed that the Aztecs believed that this might be attributed to the cacao bean and the drink. The evidence for the link between chocolate and enhanced 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 might increase sexual desire; one is tryptophan, a precursor to the feel-good chemical serotonin. The second substance is phenylethylamine, which is a stimulant akin to amphetamine. The latter material, phenylethylamine is discharged 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 actually has any aphrodisiac qualities. Dark chocolate has marginally more of these that white and milk chocolate, apparently. Scientists have investigated 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 very pleasurable sensation. When we feel good, and are cosy and comfortable, we’re probably open to the possibilities of stimulation. If you are not comfortable and warm, you probably aren’t in the mood for any sort of dalliance. Think about all the movies you’ve seen when a few lie in front of a log fire on a sheepskin rug and end up in each other’s embrace.
Chocolate is not an aphrodisiac based scientists, but since it makes us feel relaxed and good, there is some circumstantial evidence to suggest, however erroneously, that chocolate is an aphrodisiac.