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Collection Tier:
Tier 3

Central American
Food ➔ Stirring Stick

This stirring stick, also called a chocolate frother or molinillo is made of carved wood and features two carved rings at the base. There are also two red bands on the handle. 

Stirring sticks such as this have been used for blending chocolate drinks since the 1500s. The wooden tool mixes crushed cacao seeds with liquid when the handle is twisted. The Aztecs, Mayans, and Olmecs first drank cacao frothed with water as a cold chocolate drink. To sweeten the bitter flavor honey, vanilla, chili peppers, or maize would be added. Later, the Europeans combined the cacao with sugar and milk to create hot chocolate.

Chocolate beverages were once a symbol of power and wealth, enjoyed by warriors, rulers, and the upper class. These drinks were considered magical and sacred, meant for the gods of these ancient civilizations. Cacao beans were so valuable that they were often used as currency throughout Mesoamerica. Because of this, chocolate beverages were used during marriages and funerals. It is said that the Aztec ruler Montezuma II loved the drink so much he would consume 50 goblets of frothed chocolate a day. 

12" h
Current Location Status:
Education Program
Discovery Kit: Foodways (October 25 2019)
Discovery Kits include a variety of artifacts and specimens from the Museum’s Collection that allow students to investigate global and local objects. The Collections support the Museum’s mission of inspiring curiosity and discovery around science, history, and culture. Each kit includes objects from the Museums archives, helpful resources and suggested activities. Discovery Kits are a great way for teachers to incorporate primary source and object-based learning into the classroom or as a way to prepare for or extend a Museum visit.