It's thought that gold chocolate coins came into being with the giving of coins (gelt) at the Jewish Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) to children. The festival is held from late November to late December and as cultures intermingled chocolate gold coins became fashionable at Christmas.
Giving gold coins at Christmas has ancient roots stemming back to Roman times when coins and sweets were given during the ancient Roman celebration Saturnalia. The Romans believed that sweet gifts would ensure a good year, so fruits, honey, and cakes were popular gifts. Wealthy Romans gave each other gold coins for good luck. The Three Kings brought Gold as a gift to the infant Christ and an old legend tells the story of how Christmas Stockings originated with the gift of 3 gold coins to a poor man with 3 daughters from Saint Nicholas.
Interestingly chocolate and money have more in common than you might think - chocolate beans were used by the Aztecs as currency! Thanks to Columbus and Cortez chocolate, as a drink was introduced to Spain and spread to France in 1615, when Princess Anne of Austria (daughter of Philip II of Spain) served the drink at her royal wedding to Louis XIII. Soon after, chocolate became all the rage among the fashion-conscious French. By the mid-1700’s, chocolate houses that served the “excellent West India Drink” in pots were common in Paris, London, and Venice. In 1847 Fry & Sons of Bristol, which merged with Cadbury Limited in 1919, created the chocolate bar and the rest is history!