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Date: 2016-10-31 03:21 pm (UTC)
rinue: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rinue
I suspect it was cocoa, approximately like the hot chocolate we have now; it was a common enough British breakfast of the period. It shows up in a lot of children's songs and poems as a cheap/easy meal served by a nanny, or in recollections of skimming the "skin" off the top because the milk was overboiled.

The UK produces a lot of dairy; most of their land is good for grasses (which can be eaten by cows and sheep) but doesn't work as cropland. Meanwhile, cocoa was being imported from the colonies, and Cadbury had figured out a very inexpensive way to process it into powder. So it's reasonable to think cocoa was a cheap and low-cleanup way to get calories into someone - kind of along the lines of carnation instant breakfast, or slim fast, or the various chocolate-flavored protein shakes. Notably, cocoa is such a strong flavor it can disguize the taste of spoiled milk.

It was probably a bit bitterer than most hot chocolate now, though, a bit more like some of the dark single-source organic stuff you sometimes get if you're into that kind of thing (which I sometimes am), rather than something alkalized like Swiss Miss.
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