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    Ancient use

    The original cocoa plant was first harvested in ancient South American cultures between 1400 and 1100 BC. This for the sweet pulp of the fruit, and not for the seed. The pulp was fermented and made into an alcoholic beverage. Later on, also the seeds were used by indigenous people like the Aztecs and the Mayans. This to make a bitter beverage that was given around during religious ceremonies, cacahuatl.

    This is actually where the word ´chocolate´ comes from. It´s a combination of the words chocolatl (meaning “hot water”) and the word cacahuatl, both stemming from the Nahuatl language of native South American groups.

    The cacao bean was so important it was used as a currency. In addition, it was given as a reward to warriors before battle. No wonder that when the Spanish came in contact with the native cultures of South America they were quick to recognize the value of the crop and the drink. They added their own crops to the beverage to make it more accustomed to their own taste pallet. These are sugar, which did not grow in South America, and spices. However, they kept the production process a secret for nearly 100 years to the rest of the world.

    Modern production

    Afterward cocoa spread across the globe. Initially only in the form of a drink accessible only to the social elite. It was not until the Industrial Revolution chocolate became more accessible to the people. This thanks to steam-powered machines that produced the cocoa powder far quicker and cheaper. As a result, people everywhere in the world got a chance to enjoy the delicacy.

    At last in 1850, Joseph Fry ‘invented’ solid chocolate. He did this by adding cacao butter to the cacao powder. Next, around the year 1910 the Belgian inventor Jean Neuhaus II brought his craftwork, namely pralines, to the market. These were little chocolate pieces of art, filled with all sorts of flavors. Needless to say at this point the chocolate industry boomed.

    Cocoa has been consistently present and popular over the ages. From the ancient South American cultures to the current world population, everyone loves this rumored aphrodisiac. For that reason, it is clear that cocoa will not soon leave the stage or the kitchen table. How exactly cocoa is grown, harvested and produced today you can discover here.

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