The Story of Chocolate: From Trees to Treats

The story of POLKADOT SHROOM BARS starts a little over 3000 years ago according to the Chocolate Review, an online resource for chocolate lovers. It reports that historians believe the cacao tree, whose beans are used to make chocolate, was first cultivated by the Olmecs, who lived in Central America at that time.

When the Aztecs discovered the cacao beans, they named the beans cacahuatl, meaning “sun beans.” They used the beans primarily as a form of currency considered so valuable, they were the only permitted form of payment of taxes levied by the Aztec rulers. The beans also became valuable gifts.

The beans were also used to make a beverage. Ground cacao beans were mixed with various spices to make a bitter, frothy drink seasoned with spices like chiles that was consumed by warriors to strengthen them for battle. Cacao was believed to have both medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities by these early cultures.

Chocolate also played a role in royal and religious event in early cultures. Cacao seeds were presented by priests as an offering to the gods, and chocolate drinks were served during sacred ceremonies.The manufacturing process takes the beans through a roasting and grinding process to produce a paste called chocolate liquor. Additional processing extracts the cocoa butter from the solid cocoa that is ground into cocoa powder.

When the Spanish arrived in the New World, they observed the custom of drinking this early chocolate beverage. They returned home with cacao beans, and are credited with being the first to add sugar to eliminate the bitterness. When the rest of Europe discovered the chocolate drink, it became a hit on the continent. To keep up with the demand, plantations were established in the New World by many of the European countries. However, cacao and sugar were expensive imports, so chocolate became a symbol of wealth and power.

In France, chocolate could only be consumed by members of the Royal Court for a period of time. Chocolate became widely available in the United States in the 1900s, thanks to the Industrial Revolution. Inventions like the cocoa press made it possible to create solid chocolate for the masses in addition to the liquid form. And yet despite the advances in manufacturing chocolate, cacao is still harvested mostly by hand.

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