Penn State

Philip K. Wilson - professor of humanities and professor of science, technology and society; director, The Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine, Penn State College of Medicine, The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Book Title: The True History of Chocolate

Author: Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe

Book Description:

In 1753, the noted nosologist, Carl Linnaeus, named it Theobroma cacao “Food of the gods.” Joanne Harris emphasized this exotic import’s erotic sensations in her 1999 fiction debut Chocolat. For millennia, healers have touted amazing attributes derived from this Amazonian medicine. By the 1950s, what had once been used as a drug, a food, and as a source of currency was being marketed merely as a pleasure-filled snack. Half a century later, the craving to carve out chocolate’s healthy, medicinal qualities resurged. Though many authors have shared bits and pieces of chocolate’s history, Coe and Coe provide a remarkable, readable, and memorable tour de force of nature’s most complex product. Their use of “True History” in the title is a specific reference to conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo’s The True History of the Conquest of Mexico (1572), and the authors aim for a similar goal “to tell as true a story as possible.” The True History of Chocolate is a pleasure to read under any circumstance, but the experience is even more delectable if read with a chocolate bar or beverage close at hand!

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