Chocolates are made basically from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree which originated from South America. Cacao beans were used to make chocolate for Aztec warriors and high-ranking officers. Cacao beans were also used in religious ceremonies being associated with the goddess of fertility, Xochiquetzal. Cacao beans were used as a means of taxation and purchasing.
Fact 1. The medicinal use of cacao, or chocolate, originated in the New World, and the message was diffused into European culture in the mid-1500s. The medicinal practices originated from the Olmec, Maya, and the Aztec. The word ‘œcacao’ originates from the Olmec and Mayan languages as ‘œkakaw’ whereas the word chocolate ‘œcacahuatl’ Â is derived from the Aztec language.
Fact 2. Chocolate was used to treat digestive, pulmonary, nervous, and infectious diseases after its appearance in France during the 15th century.
Fact 3. Â The cocoa powder contains the most beneficial antioxidants as processing decreases its antioxidant content.
Fact 4. Â There are chocolates considered to be anti-aging made by a German confectioner. The chocolates are made from dark chocolate, mango, and soya milk. The concentration of polyphenol in dark chocolates is three times that of milk chocolates. Polyphenol is known to fight radical cells, hence the anti-aging factor.
Fact 5. Â The medicinal use of cacao has been found in the 16th to early 20th century manuscripts revealing more than 100 medicinal uses for chocolate. Three prominent cures are; to cure weight-gaining problems, stimulate the nervous system, and to relieve indigestion.
Fact 6. The first European to drink chocolate was Christopher Columbus, Â whereas Â the first explorer who brought chocolate to Spain in 1528 was Hernan Cortes. The drink called xocoatl, which was initially unpopular, became popular at Spanish courts after sugar was added.
Fact 7. From the agricultural perspective, cocoa is predominantly a smallholder’s crop as more than 90 percent of the world’s cocoa production originates from small farms.
Fact 8. Â Cocoa thrives in locations 10 degrees north and south of the Equator. The largest cocoa-producing countries are: Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Indonesia.
Fact 9. Cocoa trees grow well in the lower stories of the tropical rainforest where temperatures and rainfall are important factors towards optimum growth. The trees are sensitive to rainfall requiring between 1,500 mm and 2,000 mm of annual rainfall.
Fact 10. The world’s biggest chocolate maker is Barry Callebaut whose clients include: Nestle, Hershey and Cadbury Schweppes.