History of Cacao
The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma Cacao quite literally means “food of the gods.” And that is a very appropriate name. We will return to this point shortly.
Historians remain unsure when exactly cacao was processed into chocolate the first time, but almost all agree that the “modern” use of cacao in chocolate was born somewhere in the Aztec, Olmec, or Mayan territories. What is now roughly the equivalent to the land from Mexico City to Honduras. But the earliest consumption of cacao is believed to have taken place 3 - 4.000 years. Researchers recently found cacao residue on a piece of pottery from 1400 B.C., where it is believed that the cacao bean was fermented to create an alcoholic drink.
So despite Theobroma Cacao originating in the middle of the Amazon jungle, it traveled half a continent and almost 3.000 years before it was turned into something resembling the chocolate we are used to.
The word “chocolate” traces its origin to the Aztec word “Xocolatl”. And this is where we return to the fact that it was very appropriate for the Latin name of cacao to relate to the gods. The Aztec and Mayans would sacrifice members of their villages to ensure a good cacao harvest.