Hot chocolate is one of the most popular beverages in the entire world, and it has been enjoyed by humans for thousands of years. Every year on January 31st, National Hot Chocolate Day is celebrated by people all over the country, and there are many different ways to join in the festivities.
In this article, I will take a closer look at the history of hot chocolate, as well as some of the best ways to celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day. I also highlight some of the best and most famous types of hot chocolate from around the globe and answer some of the most common hot chocolate and cocoa-related questions.
History of Hot Chocolate
The earliest documented case of humans consuming cocoa beans in the form of a drink dates all the way back to 2000 BC. The Olmec civilization in Mexico made a cold drink using cocoa beans that they called xocolātl.
Different drinks made with cocoa beans remained important in cultures throughout Mexico and Central America for over 3 thousand years before Europeans ever had access to cocoa beans. In the 1500s, conquistadors returned to Spain with cocoa beans, and they quickly became a sought-after commodity among the upper class.
Some of the first versions of hot chocolate were created in London in the 1600s, where milk and sugar were added to the drink to help curb its natural bitterness. 100 years later, the Dutch created their own type of imported cocoa that was perfectly suited for making hot chocolate.
In the 1800s, there were many major advancements made in terms of the production of chocolate, and hot chocolate became more affordable than ever before. This led to an increased popularity, as before these innovations chocolate was scarce and usually reserved for the wealthy.
Today, there are hundreds of different options when it comes to hot chocolate, and different areas have different traditions and ingredients. Some versions contain flavors like peppermint or caramel, while others are topped with marshmallows or chocolate syrup.
National Hot Chocolate Day started sometime in the mid-2000s, and as it is not an official holiday there is no definitive record as to its origins. I personally remember local coffee shops and businesses running promotions for the holiday as far back as 2008, though not everywhere I have lived has celebrated the holiday.
Hot Chocolate Day 2023
It comes as no surprise that most of the cities with strong traditions for celebrating National Hot Chocolate Day are located in cold weather regions. There are also plenty of great options for celebrating at home, and by all accounts, National Hot Chocolate Day was a major success this year in 2025.
Delaware was home to some of the most notable Hot Chocolate Day celebrations, with many local coffee and confection shops rolling out drink specials and limited flavors on January 31st. Sweet Dreams Confections Co offers some of the most memorable hot chocolate in the area, which comes in the form of a “cocoa bomb” similar to bath bombs.
Omaha, Nebraska also has a great reputation for embracing National Hot Chocolate Day. This year, there were plenty of hot chocolate options for Omaha residents, with the Riverfront offering free hot chocolate for two straight hours at the Gene Leahy Mall.
Hot Chocolate Day 2024
It is a bit too early for specific plans and announcements surrounding National Hot Chocolate Day in 2024, but there are plenty of great home options that are sure to be great choices. Sip Extraordinary Drinking Chocolate is one of the best options on the market, and is well known for offering specials each year in January.
Most Famous Types of Hot Chocolate
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is one of the largest and most popular brands of high-end chocolate in the United States. The company has a history of offering discount codes on its hot chocolate products each year to celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day.
Godiva is a Belgian chocolate company that has earned its place as one of the most respected chocolatiers in the world. The company sells hot chocolate to make at home, as well as chocolate biscuits and cookies for pairing with hot cocoa.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is the Difference Between Hot Chocolate and Hot Cocoa?
Hot chocolate is made using melted chocolate, while hot cocoa is made from cocoa powder. Most people prefer the taste of hot chocolate to hot cocoa, as it is a bit sweeter and has a “fuller” chocolate flavor.
Does Hot Chocolate Contain Dairy?
Hot chocolate is most often made using milk chocolate, which contains dairy. Some versions of hot chocolate that are made with dairy-free dark chocolate are available, and many versions add almond or coconut milk to make the drink more creamy.
National Hot Chocolate Day – Final Thoughts
National Hot Chocolate Day is a great way to celebrate one of the world’s favorite sweet beverages. Some of the largest chocolate brands in the world celebrate the holiday every year with special releases and discounts, and there are many coffee shops and cafes that celebrate as well.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you know of any great ways to celebrate National Hot Chocolate Day, and be sure to include any large parties or celebrations I may have left out!