Sir Hans Sloane was both a physician, scientist, botanist and collector. He is most famously noted for his founding of the British Museum which began with his great collection of more than 71,000 plants, animals, antiquities, coins and many other objects of his time from all over the world.
Some of the most intriguing specimens in his collection were of the Theobroma cacao he collected while he was stationed on the island of Jamaica as a personal physician to the island’s governor. Carl Linneaus, who was from Sweden and a fellow botanist of Sloane’s, visited him while he was stationed in Jamaica in 1736. Linneaus was credited for giving Theobroma cacao its name. Thank you Mr. Linneas!
While in Jamaica the natives introduced Sloane to the cocoa drink favored by the local people. He found it ‘nauseous’. His answer? Mixing it with milk. Sloane found this concoction to be quite tasty. It became the hot chocolate drink that we know today. Previously, hot cocoa was simply cocoa and hot water mixed with a variety of herbs and/or spices. He brought this chocolate recipe back to England where it was sold by apothecaries as a medicine. The apothecaries started selling it for just about every ailment and the manufacturing began. Eventually, in the nineteenth century, the recipe was taken up by Cadbury who manufactured the chocolate beverage using Sloane’s original recipe.
The vast majority of Sir Hans Sloane’s collection may now be seen at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, London.