Interesting Facts About Chocolate

Learn interesting facts about chocolate that will help you to understand chocolate's origins and how chocolate was first consumed.

One of the interesting facts about chocolate is that no one person can really claim the credit as the inventor of chocolate. 

Did you know the word chocolate comes from the Aztec word Xocoatl?  Xocoatl was the bitter and spicy drink the Aztecs made from cacao beans.

Some claim it was the Mayans and Aztecs that first experienced chocolate, but evidence points to the Amazon as being the actual cradle of chocolate. 

Cacao trees will grow very well in the humid forest ecosystems in the Upper Amazon Basin.  In the Amazon, these trees can reach up to 55 ft. in height.

Did you know the Latin name for the tree that cacao beans or chocolate comes from is Theobroma Cacao which means "food of the gods"?

Interesting Facts About Chocolate
- The Origin of Chocolate

The discovery of the earliest traces of cacao found in pottery actually links back to the ancient Mayo-Chinchipe culture 5,300 years ago. 

The Mayo-Chinchipe lived in the upper Amazon region of Ecuador.

The Amazon is most likely the origin of where chocolate was first consumed and cacao trees were first grown.  The Amazon has great soil and the perfect climate to grow cacao.

It's from the Amazon that cacao trees probably spread to Mesoamerica and to the ancient civilizations of the Olmecs, Teotihuacanos, Mayans and Aztecs.

Cacao beans played a very important spiritual, economic, and political role in ancient Mesoamerican civilizations. 

Ancient Mesoamericans believed that chocolate had mystical and medicinal qualities.  They believed that the cacao plant was of the gods.

The Aztecs associated cacao with the deity Quetzalcoatl who was depicted as a feathered serpent.  Other ancient Mesoamericans called this deity by another name.

These ancient cultures brewed a frothy chocolate drink made from ground cacao beans, water, chili peppers, and other spices.

And consumed this special drink during sacred ceremonies or rituals.

Who Invented Chocolate?

The Mayans or the Olmecs may have been the first to invent the process of fermenting, drying, and roasting cacao beans.

Mesoamerican cultures actually stood up and poured the rich spicy chocolate from one vessel to another which was on the ground.  This process created a thick chocolate foam on top.

Spanish explorers were most likely the ones that introduced cacao beans and chocolate to Europe.

Legend has it that a Spanish explorer by the name of Hernan Cortes brought cacao beans back to his homeland in the early 16th century.

The story goes that Hernan Cortes was on an expedition to the Americas in search of gold. 

What he found Instead was a cup of cocoa given to him by the Aztec emperor.

However, no one really knows who was the first person to bring cacao beans back and it might have been Columbus. 

What's known is the Spaniards recognized the special properties of the cacao beans and brought this treasure back to Europe sometime in the 16th century. 

The Spaniards also created chocolate drink recipes using sugar and honey to sweeten the bitter chocolate drink of the Mesoamericans.

When chocolate finally spread to Italy and France, the recipe changed again with the addition of milk products. 

Drinking chocolate became very popular and started to spread throughout the rest of the world.

Chocolate did not become the solid chocolate that we are more familiar with until sometime in the 1800's. 

And it wasn't until 1875 that Henri Nestle and a partner invented milk chocolate in Switzerland.

Interesting Facts About Chocolate
- The Kuna Project

The Kuna Indians were known to consume large amounts of flavanol rich cocoa drinks every day that equated to 4 or more cups.

This drink contained a high amount of flavonoids and they consumed close to 2,000 mg. of polyphenols per day.

The Kuna project was a study that involved the Kuna Indians that drank this flavanol rich cocao and lived on the San Blas islands off the coast of Panama.

Cancer, high blood pressure, and other signs of cardiovascular disease were rarely seen.

The Kuna would grind raw cacao beans and then boil them with banana.  After boiling the mixture, it was poured through a strainer which left behind the cocoa and banana solids.

Researchers found high amounts of nitric oxide in the blood and urine of the individuals that drank this flavanol rich cocoa.  Also, high levels of the flavanol epicatechin was in their bloodstream which improves blood flow.

More Interesting Facts About Chocolate

Interesting facts about chocolate is that chocolate melts around 93 degrees F. which is just below your body temperature. 

That's why chocolate will melt so easily on your tongue.

  • Africa has become one of the biggest producers of cacao beans.
  • It takes about 400 cacao beans to make one pound of chocolate.
  • Chocolate was consumed as a liquid for 90% of its history.
  • Chocolate is Americas favorite flavor and most Americans prefer milk chocolate.
  • Chocolate is one of the richest sources of magnesium and considered a gift from heaven.
  • Chemicals found in chocolate releases serotonin and endorphins into your brain which makes you feel very happy.
  • Chocolate is a traditional gift of love and chocolate is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac.

Chocolate may have really originated from another world so to speak.

There are many stories that are kept out of "mainstream" which may indicate that chocolate may have come from "elsewhere".

"Elsewhere" may have something to do with the "Gods" interestingly enough.  Maybe that is why chocolate is claimed to be the "Food of the Gods"!

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