The Story of Chocolate
Did you know ...
Theobroma cacao is the scientific name of the cacao tree
It is a combination of the Greek word Theobroma (food of the gods) and the old Aztec word 'cacahuatl', which became translated over the years as 'cacao' by the Spanish conquistadors.
Cocoa beans were not only used as ingredients for chocolate drinks but also as currency
The MAYA Indians where the first to cultivate the cacao tree for its fruits. The cocoa beans were not only an ingredient in the chocolate drink 'xocotlatl', but it was also used as a popular currency because of their value. 10 beans could be exchanged for a rabbit, according to some accounts.
Chocolate was invented by a Toltec, throwing cocoa beans in the fire
Initially the TOLTECS and other tribes of Middle- and South-America ate only the pulp of the cacao fruit because the cocoa beans tasted very acrid. Later one of them came to the idea to throw the beans in the fire. The nice fragrance made his mouth water. He crushed the beans between stones, obtained a smooth mass and tasted it. The beginning of chocolate!
Christopher Columbus was the first European to taste chocolate
During his last voyage to the Caribbean, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS lands on the island of Guanaja. The AZTEC who offered him a luxury chocolate drink 'xocotlatl' greets him but he detested the bitter beverage based on roasted seeds of cocoa blended with spices. The first cocoa beans he brought back to Europe were neglected, as the many other treasures on board were far more interesting.
Only in the 20th century chocolate becomes available for everyone
The Spanish conquistador HERNAN CORTÉZ was aware of the economic importance of the cocoa beans and realised that the Aztec literally had money 'growing on trees'. He brought cocoa beans back to Spain in 1528 where the cocoa drink was enjoyed by King and court but kept as an elite and precious secret for almost 100 years. However, the secret leaked out and soon the cream of society from Milan to London was drinking chocolate. Gradually the custom of drinking chocolate spread across Europe. England was the first to produce chocolate for eating. Chocolate was still considered a luxury; only in the 20th century did chocolate became more freely available for everyone.