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Oh the joy of a cup of steamy hot chocolate on a cold winter day! Hot chocolate provides a delicious and sweet treat that warms the body and the heart.

It’s time to learn more about and celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day!

History of National Hot Chocolate Day

Hot chocolate has a long and delightful history that goes along with the history of the cacao bean. In fact, the first way that chocolate was enjoyed was as a beverage, although quite different from the way people drink hot chocolate today. When cacao beans were first used by ancient people groups, the beans were likely ground coarsely and placed in hot water to create a bitter drink that was used in religious ceremonies.

As chocolate beans and sugar both became more accessible in Europe, the cocoa solids were then used to make chocolate bars and chocolate candies. But a favorite continues to be the warm, sweet milky beverage that is known as hot chocolate!

By 1828, powdered chocolate was made that made it much easier to stir into milk. And when Nesquik was invented in 1948, the first chocolate milk powder made a quick and tasty addition to milk that could also be heated up into hot chocolate.

National Hot Chocolate Day was established to show appreciation for and encourage the celebration of this delicious drink that soothes and comforts the youngest and oldest of souls – and everyone in between!

National Hot Chocolate Day Timeline

1500 BC

Earliest traces of cocoa beans

The Olmec, Mayan and Aztec peoples all may have incorporated chocolate drink into their religious ceremonies.[1]

1657

London opens its first chocolate house

Near Bishop’s Gate, a Frenchman opens the first house serving “an excellent West India drink”.[2]

1968

The band ‘Hot Chocolate’ is formed

This band from the UK brings an eclectic mix of reggae, soul, rock and disco over the next several decades. [3]

2004

Starbucks begins serving hot chocolate

Catering to those non-coffee drinkers, the coffee mogul places hot chocolate on their menu. [4]

2004

Polar Express film features hot chocolate

The train taking children to the North Pole serves hot chocolate along with a delightful song. [5]

How to Celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day

Anyone can join in on the fun and celebration of National Hot Chocolate Day, whether keeping it simple or making a big deal out of it! Take a look at some of these fun ways to bring joy and delight in honor of the day:

Enjoy a Cup of Hot Chocolate

Whether using a powdered mix, making it at home from scratch or going out to a coffee shop, the most important task of the day is to drink and enjoy a delicious cup of toasty hot chocolate. The easiest way, of course, is to add a pre-made mix to hot milk, stir it up and drink. Adding marshmallows or whipped cream on top can turn it into an extra delicious treat.

For a more sophisticated hot chocolate drink in honor of National Hot Chocolate Day, try using an online recipe that is often used in many different coffee shops and cafes. Typically, these recipes will include whole milk, unsweetened cocoa powder, granulated sugar, bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and vanilla extract. The ingredients are mixed together, cooked on the stove, melted and whisked to a creamy hot chocolate perfection.

Learn the Health Benefits of Hot Chocolate

Although the most popular versions of hot chocolate typically do contain quite a bit in the form of sugars and carbs, some homemade varieties that contain actual dark chocolate and milk (or plant-based milks) can provide some interesting health benefits. Check out some of these ways that hot chocolate might be good for you:

  • Good for heart health

    According to Harvard research, hot chocolate contains flavanols and phytosterols, which are able to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood, which can be an indicator of heart disease. Plus, the antioxidants are helpful in the fight against heart disease as well.

  • Brain power booster

    Scientific research suggests that the flavanols in cocoa tend to increase the brain’s oxygen levels and activate neurons at a higher rate – equaling better brain performance and improved cognitive function.

  • Rich in antioxidants

    Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, like polyphenols and flavonoids, which can help reduce the negative impact of aging, as well as boosting the immune system and reducing inflammation.

  • Helps with the memory

    One study has shown that drinking hot cocoa twice a day could not only give a memory boost, but may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease in some people.

Get Creative with Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is certainly tasty when it is enjoyed on its own, but it also offers a ton of options when new varieties are made with just a bit of creative flair in the kitchen! Check out some of these ideas for taking National Hot Chocolate Day to the next level:

  • Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate. Cinnamon, chili powder and dark chocolate turn this hot chocolate drink into something extra special.
  • Hot Chocolate with Peppermint. This one can be made using either peppermint flavored extract or with chopped up peppermint sticks or peppermint candies.
  • Boozy Pumpkin Hot Chocolate. Add some pumpkin pie spice to a hot chocolate recipe and then toss in a bit of winter warmth using Kahlua, bourbon, peppermint schnapps or a bit of cinnamon whiskey.
  • Nutella or Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate. One fun and easy way to add a bit of flavor to hot chocolate is to simply stir in a scoop of peanut butter or Nutella to give a smooth and creamy flavor. This is a fun one that kids can easily take part in as well!

Gift Some Hot Chocolate to Loved Ones

Perhaps National Hot Chocolate Day is a time to not only enjoy some hot chocolate on your own, but to spread the love and cheer by sharing in the day with some friends, coworkers or family members. It could be something as simple as surprising a coworker with a cup of hot chocolate picked up from the local coffee shop on the way to work.

Or maybe celebrating the day means creating special handmade packets of hot chocolate mix. Put them in decorative bags, add some candy kisses or peppermint disks and place it inside of a cute new hot chocolate mug. Make it special by tying a little colorful ribbon around the gift or placing a bow on top, just for this fun and festive occasion. 

National Hot Chocolate Day FAQs

Is hot chocolate good for you?

Hot chocolate made with real chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants which may be healthy, but it also can have a lot of sugar and carbs. [1]

How much caffeine is in hot chocolate?

Powdered hot chocolate mixes may contain from 0-5mg of caffeine while hot chocolate made with real cocoa powder may have up to 25mg of caffeine.[2]

How to make hot chocolate?

Hot chocolate can easily be made by heating up milk and adding cocoa powder, sugar and melted chocolate.

Does Starbucks have hot chocolate?

Most Starbucks stores serve hot chocolate made with milk and chocolate syrup. [3]

Does hot chocolate help you sleep?

The milk and cocoa in hot chocolate may be soothing and help you to fall asleep. [4]

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