This chilly February month, is a great time to pour yourself a cup of hot cocoa and drink in some facts about the beloved hot beverage.

  1. There is a difference between hot chocolate and hot cocoa.

We use cocoa powder and hot water or milk to make hot cocoa. Cocoa powder is cacao that is ground up and stripped of its fat. Hot chocolate is made from cacao that contains its fat, according to Mentalfloss’s Web site.

  1. Hot chocolate has a rich history.

Cocoa beans were used as currency and given as gifts by the Aztecs. They drank their chocolate cold and flavored it with chili peppers. When Cortez brought chocolate to Spain in the early 1500s, it began to be served hot and sweetened. The English began the practice of adding milk to chocolate, sometime in the 1700s. Chocolate was served primarily as a drink until 1876, when milk chocolate was created, according to

  1. Coenraad J. Van Houten made hot cocoa available to poor college students.

In 1827, the Dutch chemist Coenraad J. Van Houten invented cocoa powder, which helped make hot cocoa widely available, according to Mentalfloss’s Web site. Cocoa powder was marketed as a health food, especially for its use in aiding digestion, according to The Food Timeline.

  1. It was used in expeditions to the north and south poles.

Students trekking to the Thomas E. Ricks Building use hot cocoa to fuel their journey. Likewise, early 20th century expeditions to the North and South Poles used hot chocolate. Hot chocolate was given to explorers in an attempt to give them warmth, energy boosts and nutrition, according to

  1. The people of Rexburg love peppermint hot cocoa.

Daniel Houston, a Kiwi Loco employee and a senior studying business management, said peppermint is Kiwi Loco’s top selling hot cocoa. Kasey Blackmon, a Soda Vine employee and a junior studying elementary education, said peppermint bark is Soda Vine’s top selling hot cocoa.

  1. Chocolate has health benefits.

Chocolate relieves stress, fights cancer, lowers blood pressure and stimulates the mind. Chocolate contains serotonin, which helps produce endorphins and acts as an anti-depressant. The antioxidants also help relieve stress. Cornell University found that twice as many cancer-fighting antioxidants are in a cup of cocoa than a glass of red wine. Cocoa can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. Increased blood flow increases oxygen to the brain, which stimulates the mind. Dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease, according to

  1. Peppermint is good for your throat.

Peppermint, a hybrid of watermint and spearmint, contains menthol, which is used to treat irritated throats, according to Perhaps Rexburg citizens opt for peppermint hot cocoa to stave off colds and flus. Peppermint also aids in digestion, is good for the skin and protects against cancer, according to

With all the benefits of chocolate and peppermint, it’s no wonder that peppermint hot chocolate is a wintertime favorite.