A few people know that in the ancient times, chocolate was considered a delicacy of gods, so special that it was even considered as a currency and privilege of kings. The words chocolate and cocoa come from Nahualt and Aztec. The first mention of the cocoa seed appears in the newspapers of the explorers at the beginning of the sixteenth century, when Indians on the island of Guanja, facing what is now Honduras, gave Christopher Columbus and his men seeds similar to the Walnuts but with soft texture.
According to the aboriginal people, with the seeds, identified as cocoa, they produced a drink that they called xocolatl, which had a very strong taste and produced an increase in the consumer’s energy. Other studies revealthat cocoa was already known to the Olmecs, a Mesoamerican pre-Aztec civilization. In addition, there have been indications that the plant is of Amazonian origin.
Historians state that Aztec emperor Moctezuma received part of his taxes on cocoa beans, considered to be very valuable. Cocoa berries worked as coins, both in the Aztec and Maya empires. As a drink, Moctezuma received annually 400,000 countles, equivalent to 160 million cocoa berries, useful for preparing 50 cups of chocolate daily for personal consumption.
It was precisely at Moctezuma’s table that the conqueror Hernán Cortés knew the chocolate and he was so impressed that he even sent information about his wonders to the Spanish kings in Spain.
Cortés spoke of xocolatl to the Spanish king Charles V in one of his letters, in which he described it as a drink of such intensity that only one cup was enough for a soldier to work a whole day.
Though it was established that cacao’s cultivation would only be done in America, its fruits were taken to Europe from 1650s. It was also considered ideal for restoring strength and reducing pain in the patients. It was also used for the aphrodisiac and healing qualities. Many medicines of the time contained some form of cocoa. But for centuries, it was something only the aristocracy had access to.
In year 1828, Dutch chemist namely Coenraad Johannes van Houtem invented cacao press, which revolutionized the way in which the fruit was processed. With this new device, cocoa butter could be removed from already roasted berries.What remained was pulverized, which resembles what we now know as chocolate powder. 20 years later, British chocolate company namely S. Fry & Sons created the first bar of edible chocolate, produced with cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar and the rest is history.