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The Use and Abuse of Chocolate in 17th Century Medical Theory
Food and Foodways
  • Ken Albala, University of the Pacific
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Cacao and chocolate were first introduced to Europe both as food and medicine. However, physicians had difficulty classifying them within the dominant system of humoral physiology and their arguments eventually undermined the authority of this system, especially as new scientific methods of analysis gained popularity. Authors in the late 16th and early 17th centuries attempted to restrict the use of chocolate to specific pathological states, but later, particularly in Northern Europe, and in competition with other purveyors, the therapeutic applications of chocolate were extended so broadly as to ultimately make any real medical use seem obsolete. This aided the transformation of chocolate from a medicinal food to a purely recreational drink in subsequent centuries. The case of chocolate provides an excellent example of how products once considered medicinal gain popular appeal with the aid of medical controversy.
Citation Information
Ken Albala. "The Use and Abuse of Chocolate in 17th Century Medical Theory" Food and Foodways Vol. 15 Iss. 1-/-2 (2007) p. 53 - 74 ISSN: 0740-9710
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