What you need to know about the History of Chocolate

By: Lucille Green

Through research we now know that the first chocolate formats came in an ancient drink used by the Mesoamerican indigenous cultures. It was used in religious and social lives of those people as early as 250-900 AD, also known as the Classic Period. The beans had to be harvested from rainforests around the Mayan built gorgeous cities. The cocoa tree was called "Cacahuaquchtl" and the chocolate was called "xocoatl", which means "bitter water" when translated. A paste was formed from the beans which were fermented and roasted. In order to complete the spicy chocolate drink, water, chili peppers, cornmeal, and a variety of other substances were added to the paste.
The Aztecs did begin to adopt cocoa as a type of currency once they became the dominant people in Mesoamerica, as well. Soon chocolate became an integrated part of the Aztecs lives as well. Along with the rulers that the Mayans allowed to drink the beverage, the Aztecs also allowed it to be consumed by priests, honored merchants, and decorated soldiers.
One of the beliefs of the Aztecs was that power and wisdom came from eating fruit or beans. With cocoa beans, many people believed that aphrodisiac qualities followed. The Europeans, on the other hand, were not immediately impressed with Christopher Columbus' offering of cocoa beans when he brought them back from his trip to the Americas. After several returning trips to the Americas, the Europeans began to realize that the beans could indeed be used as a type of currency.
It was by this period that the Aztecs had changed the bitter liquid name of "xocoatl" to their name of "chocolatl," which means "warm liquid". By 1519, however, Hernando Cortex Begin had a cocoa tree plantation, the very first. The plantation, which was created in the name of Spain, gave the Spanish King Charles the Fifth his first experience of spicy chocolate. Soon it became a delicacy and was enhanced further when Hernando started experimenting by blending the beans with sugar. Soon nutmeg, vanilla, cloves and cinnamon, become part of the variations.
During this time period, the drink continued to be reserved especially for the Spanish nobility, with the working class and other countries being excluded from its greatness. Spain made one tragic flaw, however, in letting their monks cultivate their beans, because those monks gave the outside world access. The popularity of chocolate rapidly spread throughout Europe, with many people enjoying its taste, or the ability to use it as a currency.
Ever since, chocolate spread throughout the decades and centuries, to become the treasured sweet it is today. Over time, it has dropped the religious and royalty purposes, and has experienced growth in the taste department. Continual research is conflicted on the question of chocolate being an aphrodisiac, but research does agree that a certain amount of dark cocoa is good for you.

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