Chocolate in the Library

Assembled by: Axel E. Borg, Yazmín A. Arreguin-Reyes, and Laura J. Borg

Chocolate in the Library showcases the wide-ranging material in the UC Davis University Library's collections related to chocolate. The Library has technical works on the growing and processing of chocolate, culinary works on chocolate desserts, candy and beverages, rare antiquarian works on chocolate, chocolate in popular culture as depicted in both films and novels and last but not least, scholarly publications highlighting the contributions of UC Davis researchers in chocolate.

While chocolate is a gift from Mesoamerica, it is presently grown in the tropics. Chocolate has become an international business with an estimated worth of over 60 billion US dollars annually. The first industrial processing of chocolate took place in Barcelona in 1780. However, it is not until 1830 that ‘eating’ chocolate was created in Britain by J. S. Fry and sons. Prior to that time, chocolate was considered a beverage.

On display are a number of rare items from Special Collections including a selection of Hurty-Peck Library pamphlets on chocolate from 1876 to the 1960s. The display also includes a facsimile of the Florentine Codex by Bernardino de Sahagún. This Codex, based on interviews of Nahuatl elders, is an early source of information on cacao cultivation and is thought to date from about 1577.

The highlight of the display is a noteworthy book, Chocolata Inda (Nuremburg: 1644). This book was recently acquired by the Library to commemorate the groundbreaking of the Robert Mondavi Institute. Written by an Andalusian physician, Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, this book is the fourth edition of the second oldest printed book on chocolate. This edition was printed in Latin and is bound with another work on balms and pulmonary medicine and was likely owned by a physician.

Chocolate's ubiquitous cultural presence is reflected in a number of short stories, novels and films such as Like Water For Chocolate, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Chocolat which are represented in this exhibit. In The making of Chocolat featurette which accompanies the motion picture Chocolat, mention is made of the research being done by Professor Carl Keen on chocolate and health. Chocolate-related research continues today by a number of UC Davis faculty including Professors Carl Keen, Louis Grivetti, and Andrew Waterhouse. On display are several research publications on chocolate and health.

Poster 1 for Chocolat Inda Poster 2 for Chocolat Inda

For more information, contact Axel Borg (, UC Davis University Library Food and Beverage Librarian.