Incredible Facts About Chocolate You Probably Didn't Know

Gift from the gods

Experts believe chocolate has been around for at least two millennia, with evidence that cacao beans were consumed in some form by Mayan people, who lived in Mesoamerica more than 2,000 years ago.

Chocolate for victory

Mayans would dry and grind cacao beans and mix them with chilli and water to form a bitter drink. Later, the Aztec people named this drink xocolatl – seen as the origin of the word 'chocolate'.

Number-one fan

Cacao was so highly prized in Mesoamerica that access to it indicated status. The 16th-century Aztec ruler Montezuma II was so partial to the bitter bean that he allegedly drank 50 cups of xocolatl every day.

Columbus and cacao

Another theory is that Christopher Columbus was way ahead of his fellow explorer. Some believe that, on one of his trips, the Italian coloniser intercepted a trade ship journeying to America.

Divine intervention

Clergymen were some of the most well-travelled people because they were on a mission to preach to unconverted communities – so they were exposed to cacao beans and their uses relatively early on.

From medicinal to pleasurable

As we know from the Mayans and Aztecs, cacao was consumed for its medicinal purposes. Wealthy European elites also started drinking xocolatl as a health drink that had the additional benefit of suggesting a certain status.

When cacao became cocoa

There's often confusion between cocoa and cacao. The use of the former is believed to be a spelling mistake that stuck.

Status symbol

Produce sourced from overseas, such as pineapples, often symbolised social status because they were expensive and hinted at disposable income.