When he first tasted this hot drink, he was at the court of the Aztec emperor, Montezuma II. This drink was a far cry from the ubiquitous hot drinking chocolate we have now. It was made with ground cacao beans, chilli peppers, vanilla, cinnamon, and black pepper. As there wasn’t any sugar cane then in Central America, it might have been sweetened, (if it was), with honey. Sugar cane was not introduced in the South American continent before the mid-16th century.
Montezuma is reputed to have had a prodigious sexual appetite, and it is believed that the Aztecs believed that this might be attributed to the cacao bean along with the drink. The evidence for the link between chocolate and enhanced sexual performance is therefore purely anecdotal.
So, that is where the belief that chocolate is an aphrodisiac has its own origins. But is there any scientific proof for this claim?
Scientists say that there are two substances in chocolate and the cacao bean which might increase sexual desire; one is tryptophan, a precursor to the feel-good chemical serotonin. The second substance is phenylethylamine, which is a stimulant akin to amphetamine. The latter substance, phenylethylamine is released into the brain when people fall in love.
These substances are found in chocolate of all kinds in small doses, so it’s extremely unlikely that chocolate really has any aphrodisiac qualities. Dark chocolate has slightly more of them that milk and white chocolate, apparently. Scientists have researched the claims, but have found no evidence to substantiate them.
That being said, though, most people wouldn’t deny that eating chocolate, and letting it melt in your mouth, is a very pleasurable sensation. When we feel good, and are cosy and comfortable, we’re probably open to the possibilities of arousal. If you’re not comfortable and warm, you probably are not in the mood for any kind of dalliance. Think about all of the movies you’ve seen when a few lie in front of a log fire on a sheepskin rug and end up in each other’s embrace.
Chocolate isn’t an aphrodisiac according scientists, but as it makes us feel relaxed and good, there’s some circumstantial evidence to suggest, however erroneously, that chocolate is an aphrodisiac.