May 3rd – On this day in 1664, according to the entry in his now-famous diary, Samuel Pepys “went to Mr Bland’s and there drank my morning’s draft in chocolate”.
London’s first chocolate-house, in a Frenchman’s house in Queen’s Head Alley off Bishopsgate, had opened only shortly beforehand, in 1657. Chocolate was a considerable luxury in the mid 1600s, costing as much as 13s/lb (£50/lb in today’s terms, according to The National Archives invaluable “currency converter”). The chocolate- and coffee- houses of the time were places where rich and “respectable” types could meet, and also, importantly, transact business, without social stigma (unlike ale-houses). Thus it was that certain of the financial institutions of the City, for instance Lloyds of London, were initially founded (see also September 25th, 2013 posting, Coffee, Tea or Insurance).