Fun Facts

A History on Cocoa and Chocolate

Where does chocolate come from?

So common is chocolate today that it hardly crosses our minds to wonder about the origin of this delicious food. Scrape the surface of its rich history and you will know how chocolate has been consumed for thousands of years. Delve deeper and you will discover the amazing intricacies and interesting events of the humble cacao seed.

Chocolate is processed from the seeds of the cacao tree which was discovered 2,000 years ago in ancient Mexico and Central America by the Mayas and Aztecs. From a humble beverage, chocolate has since evolved and found its way into the hearts of many.

But the first chocolate (the drink, not the candy) would probably have failed today’s taste test, for it was a combination of ground cacao seeds, water, chile peppers, cornmeal and other ingredients. Indeed, the spicy, frothy drink was far from the sweet, rich and velvety-smooth beverage that we now know. It was not until cacao seeds were brought to Spain and new recipes were created. In Europe, spices in the drink were replaced with sugar and the beverage was served hot instead of cold.

Fun Facts – Did you know?

  • Cocoa beans used to be valued as a currency. They even used to be given as a dowry when members of the Spanish Royal Family married other European aristocrats.
  • Chocolate was a state monopoly that could be consumed only by members of the royal court in France.
  • Hot chocolate used to be so expensive that it was considered a drink for the elite!
  • Chocolate drinks were kept a Spanish secret for almost 100 years before the rest of Europe discovered it.
  • The word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocolatl”, which means “bitter water”.
  • Chocolate contains mood-lifting agents (Phenylethylamine and Serotonin) found naturally in the brain. They are released into the nervous system when we are happy or feel love.
  • Chocolate may be seen as a decadent snack but it does possess an excellent source of antioxidants that may have potential medical benefits.
  • Compared with other foods with a similar sugar content, chocolate is less harmful to your teeth as saliva in our mouths prevents it from staying on our teeth for long.