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The True History of Chocolate

Sophie D. Coe, Michael D Coe


A richly detailed and illustrated investigation into the story of the world’s favourite food


Chocolate – ‘the food of the Gods’ – has had a long and eventful history. Its story is expertly told here by the doyen of Maya studies, Michael Coe, and his late wife, Sophie.

The book begins 3,000 years ago in the Mexican jungles and draws on aspects of archaeology, botany and socio-economics. Used as currency and traded by the Aztecs, chocolate arrived in Europe via the conquistadors, and was soon a favourite drink with aristocrats. By the 19th century and industrialization, chocolate became a food for the masses – until its revival in our own time as a luxury item. Chocolate has also been giving up some of its secrets to modern neuroscientists, who have been investigating how flavour perception is mediated by the human brain. And, finally, the book closes with two contemporary accounts of how chocolate manufacturers have (or have not) been dealing with the ethical side of the industry.

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'A splendid treat'
New York Review of Books

'A true classic'
Literary Review

'Genuinely scholarly and highly entertaining ... erudite and delightful'
Sunday Telegraph

'Begins with the origins of the cacao tree and follows the story up to today’s mass-produced chocolate … A pleasure, not just for chocoholics but for anyone who enjoys lively, thorough historical sleuthing via the printed page'

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Edition Type: Third edition

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 280 pp

Illustrations: 99

Publication date: 7 February 2019

ISBN: 9780500294741

About the Author

Sophie D. Coe, an anthropologist and food historian, was the author of America’s First Cuisines.

Professor Michael D. Coe is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Curator Emeritus in the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University. His books include The Maya, Reading the Maya Glyphs and Mexico and The True History of Chocolate, all published by Thames & Hudson.