In the storerooms at St. Augustine's Government House in the US, archaeologists have found a whisk known as molinillo in a plastic container, which suggests that chocolate may have been made and eaten in St. Augustine in the 1500s.
According to a report in the St. Augustine Record, the whisk is a slender wooden stick with a carved knob on one end.
Advertisement"It shows a probable connection to Mexico or Central America that St. Augustine had," said City Archaeologist Carl Halbirt. "It's evidence for the presence of the chocolate drink (in St. Augustine)," he added.
The cacao bean, the basis for chocolate, was originally grown from rainforest trees and used in Central America and Mexico as currency.
For thousands of years, chocolate was known as a drink rather than as candy.
Archaeologists found the molinillo in a well during a dig on the south side of St. Augustine.
Halbirt said that the finding of the molinillo as well as pits of oyster, clam shells and animal bone shows the area may be associated with street vendors or a feasting place.
That well and the water in it are the reason the wooden stirrer survived.
The structure of wood would normally disintegrate; the water kept that from happening and preserved the stick.
For now, the stirrer, light in weight and about five inches long, is in a plastic bag filled with a solution that keeps it from disintegrating.
Researchers speculate that the stirrer ended into the well by a Spanish merchant sipping a cup of hot chocolate, who might have knocked the whisk into the well.
In his digging, Halbirt found another reminder of chocolate's role in St. Augustine, a gold strip that was once atop a box of candy.
The words "Utopian Chocolate" are on the strip of real gold.
"We found that while digging," Halbirt said, holding up the delicate strip. "Maybe it dropped off a box of candy, or maybe someone just threw away the box once it was empty," he added.