History of Cacao
Have you ever wondered, where did this piece of oozing bittersweet, yummy, dark square shaped food called chocolate come from? Why most people love them, and being left with big smiles on their faces whenever they eat it? And even the Oompa Loompas from the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory worship it. The chocolate we all love comes from the cacao tree. The cacao tree, also known as Theobroma Cacao or the cocoa tree, has been believed to be around earth ten million years ago.
During the ancient times, the Aztecs, Mayans and Olmecs believed cacao to be the “food of the gods” and it was one of their most important sacred plants used in their traditional ceremonies and healing management. It was also documented that cacao served as currency; you could buy a turkey hen for 100 nibs (cacao beans), a rabbit for 100 nibs, and other commodities.
It was believed that Christopher Columbus brought cocoa beans to Spain from his travels to the “New World”, thus, introducing cocoa to Europe in the fifteenth century. However, it was not well received at the time. It was almost twenty years after, when a Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortez recognized the value of cocoa. Along with him is the recipe for chocolatl – a drink concocted by the New World Inhabitants. This proved popular to the European populace that led for it to be heavily taxed and remained exclusive to the upper classes. The Spanish kept the secrets of cocoa for over a century. Cocoa later spread in France when in 1615, Anne, daughter of Philip II of Spain, married Louis XIII of France, with him taking Spanish chocolate as a gift. Chocolate drinking became a fashionable trend in France that eventually spread to the rest of Europe.
In 1828, Coenraad van Houten, a Dutchman, invented the cocoa press that extracted the cocoa powder from the cocoa butter. The powder made a smoother drink and the butter, when combined with more cocoa powder and sugar, made the first chocolate. This carried on and revolutionized the chocolate production.
Today, anywhere you go there is chocolate. Its endless array of possibilities to be in different forms is being explored with a return to its original form, the cacao. Here at Co Chocolat, our aim is to bring healthy chocolates back on the table, or pockets, of every kid and adult. After all, different food trends may come and go, but chocolate, will remain a definite treat to everyone.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708337/ US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Chocolate in History: Food, Medicine, Medi-Food
- http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/about-cocoa/history-of-cocoa/. History of cocoa
- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151110170914.htm. Scientists date the origin of the cacao tree to 10 million years ago
- http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treesandmarkets/inaforesta/history.htm. History of cacao