Santa Barbara is one of the first places in North America where chocolate was regularly enjoyed by residents.
It is most likely the original Chumash indigenous residents of Santa Barbara who enjoyed chocolate. Raw chocolate would have arrived via active commerce trade routes from Mexico. There is no documentation of this but all things being considered it is highly probably. Salt, for example, from Southern California and Mexico would travel all the way to the Midwest via Indian trade routes and there's proof of this.
For a fact, the early Spanish settlers of Santa Barbara enjoyed chocolate.
Between 1779-1810 Governor Neve of The Santa Barbara Presidio (military fort), would regularly order hot
chocolate. His ledgers sent back to San Blas Mexico are proof Santa Barbara is one of the first places in the USA where
chocolate was regularly consumed.
So the Spanish Governor of the Presidio would regularly order chocolate from Mexico in the supply train. Governor Neve would offer chocolate drinks to visiting dignitaries, local natives and those soldiers that excelled at their duties. Apparently, according to local folklore, visiting Russians from Northern California enjoyed authentic Santa Barbara chocolate made from Oaxacan Mexican raw cacao at a welcome dinner celebration.
We have shared this illustrious history to the rest of the world with the Santa Barbara Chocolate logo which is on our company T-shirts. Our logo merges the imagery of the city's illustrious history with today. The scene depicts Juan Cabrillo's landing at East Beach but in modern day Santa Barbara.
Barbara has a deep rooted connection with the past through
chocolate. If you think about it, Santa Barbara is one of the original
chocolate cities of the USA, and this is probably why Santa Barbara
today is a chocolate tourist destination with so many famous chocolatiers
located here... well maybe it is also because they all opt to use the best chocolate couverture available. :)
If you would like to learn more, here are two articles which support this discussion.