Chocolate as we know it is believed to have its origins more than two thousand years ago with the Olmec people. This pre-Colombian tribe settled the fertile lowlands of the Gulf of Mexico and cultivated corn, chilies, avocados, pumpkins, and beans. It was under these conditions that the Olmecs first cultivated the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao.
These ancient Indians of Central America crushed cocoa beans and mixed them with water to make an unsweetened gruel, and its recipe spread throughout the equatorial regions.
The Mayans referred to cacao as “food of the gods.” They prepared their cocoa for consumption by royalty and at sacred ceremonies. Aztecs also drank the unsweetened beverage during special ceremonies. For both of these tribes, the cacao trees were found in the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Aztec also used chocolate as a form of currency. According to records of the time, a rabbit could be purchased for four cocoa beans. When European explorers visited the region, they too sampled the new delicacy.
The Spanish explorer Hernan Cortés had been searching for the gold of El Dorado, but instead he found the Aztec empire and their cacao. Cortés realized that cocoa beans were a renewable, expensive resource and planted more trees in Central America, as well as Haiti, Trinidad, and Såo Tomé. From there the beans made their way to the Ivory Coast, where much of the world’s cocoa is grown today.
The handmade chocolate that you'll find at Legacy Chocolates is every bit as valuable as it was to the Mayans. Stop by and we're sure you'll agree!