This week began with Presidents’ Day, a holiday to recognize the legacies of past presidents of the United States. While Presidents’ Day is not a holiday that is typically celebrated with chocolate, many presidents have included chocolate in their celebrations and daily lives.
George Washington and his wife Martha frequently enjoyed chocolate as a breakfast beverage. Their guests were also served chocolate, sometimes accompanied by small cakes to be dipped in the rich drink. Washington’s first recorded order for chocolate was in 1757, and he regularly ordered chocolate in quantities ranging from 1 to 50 pounds until his death in 1799.
Thomas Jefferson often drank chocolate with his family and guests after dinner. He enjoyed the drink so much that in 1785 he wrote to John Adams that chocolate’s superiority “both for health and nourishment will soon give it the same preference over tea & coffee in America which it has in Spain.”
Abraham Lincoln included chocolate in the celebration of his second inauguration in 1865, which included a ball and elaborate dinner buffet. The menu for this meal was published on the front page of the New York Times and included three different varieties of chocolate: a chocolate drink, chocolate ice cream, and an ornamental chocolate pyramid.
Chocolate has played a role in celebrations large and small since the earliest days of the United States. If you’re looking for a reason to celebrate, George Washington’s birthday on February 22 might be the perfect day to enjoy a rich cup of hot chocolate.