Cacao StoryThousands of years ago deep in Central America’s rainforest, the Mayans first discovered the sensuous flavor of cacao (pronounced kah-cow), better known today as chocolate. They roasted and ground beans from the Theobroma cacao tree-a botanical name literally meaning “food of the gods”-and combined them with aromatic flowers, vanilla and wild honey to create a bitter, spicy concoction they called chocolatl. This luxury drink was enjoyed both hot and cold, but primarily by Mayan and Aztec nobility.
The cacao tree only grows within twenty degrees of the equator, so its fruit was a rare and prized commodity among the indigenous people. Because of its great value, the Mayans and Aztecs not only drank cacao but also used the beans as currency. They found other uses for it as well, including medicinal, religious and culinary ones.
But for centuries, cacao remained a Central American secret.
Then in 1519, the Spanish explorer Cortés and his army reached Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City) and were graciously received by the Aztec emperor Moctezuma who served them with chocolatl in cups made from pure gold. Cortés eventually returned to Spain and brought with him great stores of cacao beans. The news of the chocolate drink quickly spread through Europe. Spanish Conquistadors brewed it to build up resistance and fight fatigue. Europeans prescribed it for depression and used ground cacao in love potions. When sugar was added as a sweetener in the 1600s, the drink’s popularity grew, but was enjoyed almost exclusively by European nobility.
It wasn’t until the 1700s that mass production of cacao drinks made it more affordable to all. In 1765 the first chocolate factory was built in the American Colonies, although cacao was still served only in liquid form. In the mid 1800s, dark chocolate became available in bars in England. Around that time the Swiss created milk chocolate and the French and Belgians introduced their exquisite chocolate truffles and other desserts.
Today, chocolate is one of the most popular sweet treats in the world. It is given as gifts for amorous and joyful celebrations. It lifts our spirits. And we know from scientific study that it is loaded with antioxidants and minerals that make it not only an indulgence for our senses, but also beneficial to our health.
Now discover Mayesa, the rich and indulgent cacao drink in the Mayan tradition that is as good to drink as it is good for you. Life is better with chocolate. Enjoy Mayesa!
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