A brief his­tory of cho­co­late

How It Works - - TECHNOLOGY -

Ex­actly when hu­mans first reaped the ben­e­fits of the ca­cao plant is still un­clear to­day. An­thro­pol­o­gists from the Univer­sity of Bri­tish Columbia have found ev­i­dence that Theo­broma ca­cao plants were grown for food in what is now Ecuador over 5,000 years ago – nearly 1,500 years ear­lier than pre­vi­ously thought. Rem­nants of ca­cao plant DNA found on arte­facts in­di­cate that mem­bers of the Mayo-chinchipe cul­ture pro­cessed the beans for drink­ing, medicine or as a stim­u­lant.

It's well known that the Mayans en­joyed the choco­laty char­ac­ter of ca­cao beans, fer­ment­ing, roast­ing and stew­ing them to pro­duce an an­cient drink­ing cho­co­late called ‘choco­latl’. The Aztecs also recog­nised the value of co­coa beans, us­ing them as money. Re­gard­less of its ex­act ori­gin, Western ex­plor­ers soon dis­cov­ered co­coa’s sweet po­ten­tial, and by the 19th cen­tury these magic beans were transformed into solid cho­co­lates to be sold to ea­ger con­sumers.

This Aztec sculp­ture de­pict­ing a man car­ry­ing a ca­cao pod dates back to 1440–1521

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