We have been thinking about the Winter Olympics a lot in the last few weeks. With the games being held in Russia this year, we couldn’t help but wonder if there had to be some connection between hot chocolate and Russia. The wintry weather scenes that fill your mind when you think about the country just beg for a steaming cup of chocolate goodness to be inserted into them. So we did some research, and we were a little surprised at what we found.
Chocolate, and therefore drinking chocolate, have not really been around in Russia for that long, relative to the rest of Europe. According to an article in The Moscow News, chocolate probably didn’t arrive in Russia until the 19th century. That means there were many cold nights without something sweet and smooth to warm up with (maybe vodka did the job just fine- who knows?). The article did note that hot chocolate was mentioned by a visitor to St. Petersburg in 1815. It sounds like this was really the start of a love of chocolate for the people of Russia, and who can blame them?
Hot chocolate seems to have experienced its own ups and downs along with the country of Russia. In the 20th century, the article notes that Russia was leader when it came to chocolate in Europe. With the country’s revolution and transformation into the Soviet Union, the chocolate world took some hits. Companies went out of business and quality and regulatory standards were not as present.
It does sound like things are turning around for the warm treat in Russia with the opening of boutique chocolate studios that are utilizing high-quality ingredients. Let’s just hope that there will be some yummy drinking chocolate to greet the Olympic athletes when they finish competing in their events!