History of Spices

History of Spices

The first real evidence we have of spice use comes from the artwork and writings of early civilizations.  Hieroglyphs in the Great Pyramid at Giza show workers eating garlic and onions for strength.  During Roman times, spices were available only to the upper class, who valued them as highly as gold.  Pepper, along with other spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, was such a hot commodity five centuries ago that it drove nations to sail across vast oceans searching for new routes to the spice-rich orient.

In 1492 Christopher Columbus arrived in America while searching for a direct western route to the Spice Islands.  Though he did not find the Spice Islands, Columbus brought allspice, vanilla, and red peppers from the West Indies back to his Spanish supporters.

Americans began their entry into the world spice race in 1672.  Boston-born Elihu Yale, a former clerk of the British East India Company in Madras, India, began his own spice business.  He made a fortune that he would one day use to start Yale Univeristy.  The first voyage produced a 700% profit, and trading was off and running.  Nearly one thousand American ships made that around the world voyage over the next 90 years.