Monday, September 4, 2023

Something About Hans Sloane

No chocolate teapot in his collection?

Not too long ago, I asked who Evaristus Sloane was named after.  I touched upon Sloane Square, but that's what Evaristus Sloane was named.  Who was the Sloane of Sloane Square?  Remember when I explained Sloane Square was initially called Hans Town?

Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) was an Irish physician, naturalist, and collector of objects related to natural history: books, manuscripts, drawings, plant specimens, coins, and more.  So much more that his collection of 70,000-plus items was bequeathed to the British nation to provide the foundation of the British Museum, the British Library, and the Natural History Museum in London.

Here's something I didn’t expect to read: Sloane is credited with the invention of chocolate milk.  

Britain Magazine says it happened when Sloane visited Jamaica as the personal physician to the new Governor:
Locals drank the bean with water but Sloane found it too bitter and took to mixing it with milk and sugar – the birth of milk chocolate. On his return to England, Sloane introduced the mixture to society. It was taken up by apothecaries and sold as medicine but in the 19th century the mixture inspired the Cadbury brothers. Their use of the cocoa and milk mixture brought us chocolate as we know it in Britain today.
Rose Eveleth, writing in the Smithsonian Magazine, says the European who gets credit for inventing chocolate milk probably didn’t:
According to Jame Delbougo, a historian, the Jamaicans were brewing “a hot beverage brewed from shavings of freshly harvested cacao, boiled with milk and cinnamon” as far back as 1494. And chocolate has been known to humans as far back as 350 B.C. It's hard to believe that no one before Sloane thought to put milk in it. Even Europeans had known about chocolate since 1502, when Columbus brought it back from his conquests in the Americas—although it wasn’t until Cortez pillaged the Aztecs in 1516 that Europeans actually figured out what to do with cacao. In fact, Cortez had a similar reaction to Sloan when served the bitter drink—he added spices and sugar to cut the bite.
In 2020, officials at the British Museum moved a bust of Sloane from a pedestal to a nearby cabinet because of his links to the slave trade.  The Guardian noted in its Aug. 25, 2020, article that Hartwig Fischer, director of the British Museum, said the bust's new position acknowledges that the labor of enslaved people and the slave economy partly funded the founding collection.

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