The short and sweet history of chocolate

Food Contributor
History of Chocolate
© Kguzel |

Who doesn’t love chocolate? But a few know the long and rich history behind it. Ancient shreds of evidence suggest chocolate has been consumed, revered, and desired for over 3000 years. The history of chocolate dates back to the Aztec civilization. A recent study reveals it also has a connection with the Mayan civilization.

Chocolate is made from the seeds of cacao fruit pods. In ancient times people used to consume the pulp of the whole fruit as a drink. At that time it was considered a luxury item. Also, it was only available for the nobles. It was even considered to be the gift of God! There is even a reference of cacao fruit pod to be used as a trade exchange in place of money.

History of chocolate and cacao

The cacao tree is native to Central and South America. In ancient times, the pulp of the cacao fruit was fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage. The name chocolate came from the word ‘xocolatl’ which means ‘bitter water’ in Aztec. It is believed the Aztec people inherited the recipe from Mayans or Olmecs. The nobles and warriors used to drink this in a ritual with purpose and solemnity.

In later times, cacao seeds were used in place of the fruit pulp. The seeds were fermented, roasted, and ground into a paste, and mixed with water or wine. There were some favourite flavours like chilli pepper, vanilla, honey, etc on top of the mixture. And then the whole thing goes through a process called frothing which produces a deep foam on top.

The popularization of chocolate in Europe

The Spanish came into contact with the Aztecs and learned about cacao and chocolate. They added sugar to the recipe and popularized it amongst the nobles of the Roman Catholic Church and other European courts. In the 18th and 19th centuries, during the industrial revolution, chocolate mills were established.

This allowed chocolate to be processed faster and at a lower cost. Cholocate business became so popular and profitable that the British, French and the Dutch started planting cacao as a cash crop in their colonies near the suitable Equador area. With the advancement of technology, we now get chocolate in many forms and shapes.