The story of chocolate begins thousands of years B.C. in the region we now know as Southern Mexico and Central America. A tree bearing unusual fruit with vibrant colors produced seeds so valuable that it was considered to be a gift from the gods. It was the cacao tree, known to the Aztecs as Xocatl. Aztec people were not the first to discover and cultivate this magical fruit. The credit for that belongs to earlier Mesoamerican civilizations. But, their empire was dominant and their passion for the cacao bean was unprecedented. The value of chocolate as a commodity reached new heights under the Aztec Empire. Cacao tradition was alive and well with the Aztecs. Did chocolate die with the Aztecs? No, the end of this great empire was just the beginning for chocolate in another part of the world.
Here are some assorted chocolate facts for your enjoyment. Please note, this reading is best enjoyed with a mouth-full of chocolate.
"You can't get up from the table until you finish your cacao nibs." Well, maybe not quite.
A cacao nib is the shelled and roasted cacao bean that has a crunchy texture and boasts that yummy chocolate flavor that is so universally loved. Think of it, perhaps, as premature chocolate, or as a veritable putty to be formed into anything from bland, cheap and watered-down, mass-produced candy to a dark, intense and ultra-rich confection. The difference? It's how far that little cacao nib is diluted with other ingredients, whatever they may be.
So percentage, friend, it's all about percentage. Check your chocolate for it's percentage of cacao and you will find out not only how rich and dark it's flavor will be, but also how beneficial it will be to your health, according to the current school of thought. And as with so many things in life: the more, the better.
Many of us happily eat our Chocolate.org chocolate in a blissful stupor, not at all wondering about things like the cacao plant, the cacao bean, or cacao trees, for heaven's sake. But others are driven to find out the mysteries of their chocolate mouthful down to every last detail.
So it is to the latter group that this article is dedicated. And thus, here unfolds this agricultural tale. Your beloved chocolate all starts with the cacao plant, whose original name is translated "food of the gods." And did those gods ever know the matter of which they spoke!