If the chances of you winning one million dollars had to depend on the answer to this question, I would hesitate a few seconds before booking that terrific all-included vacation to Dubai.
We all know that the more we want to go back in history, the more uncertainty we have to deal with. And the beginning of our beloved sweet pleasure is unfortunately no exception.
However, if you can’t be perfect, that doesn’t mean that you are excused from trying your best!
Therefore,get ready to take a plane and travel to the South of the Gulf of Mexico to reach the place that first saw the use of cocoa beans for the production of chocolate!
Ladies and gentlemen, here between Mexico, Guatemala and Belize once lived the populations that first had the pleasure to taste chocolate.
More than 3000 years ago, we find here the very first civilization of the Americas, the OLMECS. And you know what? Archaeologists found traces of cacao in their ceramics. Plus, it belongs to them the first linguistic reference to cacao ever: kakawa, how they originally pronounced it.
BINGO, we found our men!! But not really….
Traces of cacao in their ceramics or the use of the word cacao doesn’t mean that they were the first one to turn cacao into chocolate. For instance, they could have just crushed the cacao beans for who knows which purpose, maybe without even eating it or drinking it. Moreover, we don’t have much material on the ancient population of the Olmecs: they left us no writings that we are able to decode and their ceramics haven’t given us any more details about their use of cocoa beans yet.
This is why it is pretty much impossible to state who, between the ancient populations, really had the pleasure to taste chocolate.
The Olmecs? Maybe. Their immediate descendants, the MAYAS? Oh yes, you can bet!
Mayas just loved chocolate, and they treated it like the food of the Gods! It was consumed only by the elite class and it had a prominent role in very special occasions like festivities, weddings, sacrifices, initiations and funerals. They had a long list of cacao products: drinks, gruels, porridges, powders, and probably solid substances, to all of which could be added a wide variety of flavorings.
Unlike the Olmecs, we have many evidences that testify the use of cacao among Mayas (dishes, bowls, vessels, vases, books). The most famous example is probably the Princeton Vase, belonging to the Late Classic Maya (c. AD 750). Here it is shown a woman pouring chocolate from one vessel to another to raise the foam, considered the most desirable part.
With the advent of the AZTECS replacing the Mayas, the “chocolate culture” grew even stronger. Aztecs were known for being great cacao traders, and for using cocoa beans as cash. For more details about the strong relationship between the Aztecs and cacao, don’t miss my article Aztecs just could not get enough.
So, going back to our question, who first turned cocoa beans into chocolate?
Surely the use of cacao and the delight of chocolate have begun at least 3000 years ago among the Mesoamerican populations that inhabited the South of the Gulf of Mexico, and it is thanks to them if we can now enjoy the food of the Gods in our everyday life.
Do you have more details to add to this story? Or do you know a different version? Share it!
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.