About the Exhibit
2010 marked the 350th anniversary of the birth of Hans Sloane, a British physician and naturalist who was best known for offering his collections to the British government, and with which the British Museum was started. Sloane's materials went on to form the foundation collections of the Natural History Museum of London. But, did you know that Sloane played a role in the development of chocolate use in Europe? He advocated, along with many apothecaries of the time, the use of liquid milk chocolate as a medicinal beverage? Cadbury, the chocolate manufacturer, purchased Sloane's recipe and marketed it for a time as Sloane's recipe milk chocolate, so authoritative was Sloane's voice.
But, chocolate was known long before Hans Sloane was introduced to it, as it had been used by the native peoples of South and Central America since at least 350 BCE. It was the Spanish who first brought chocolate to Europe, based on their encounters with the native Americans. Sloane, however, was first exposed to chocolate use while in Jamaica in the late 17th century.
This exhibit presents a brief biographical sketch of Hans Sloane as collector, with a brief look at his time in Jamaica, as well as a survey of his involvement with other notable collectors and naturalists. It will also present a history of the uses of chocolate and how this plant figures in the social fabric of the Americas in the time before European discovery, as well as how chocolate changed once it was introduced to Europe. The exhibit will also take a brief look at Jamaica, as this is where Sloane first learned of chocolate. Chocolate continued to be grown and produced in Jamaica long after Sloane's time there, and was the subject of at least a few photographs taken by Curtis G. Lloyd, one of Lloyd Library's founders.
The information and images presented in this exhibit can be found in resources held at the Lloyd Library. Resources are listed in the "Further Reading" section of this exhibit.