The Olmec Indians are believed to be the first to grow cocoa beans as a domestic crop. The consumption of cocoa beans was restricted to the Mayan society’s elite, in the form of an unsweetened cocoa drink made from the ground beans. The cacao beans were used as currency. 10 beans would buy you a rabbit or a prostitute. 100 beans would buy you a slave. Some clever person even came up with a way to counterfeit beans – by carving them out of clay. The beans were still used as currency in parts of Latin America until the 19th century!
The cacao tree, which chocolate comes from, originated in Mesoamerica. Native Peoples used the cacao tree to produce a potent drink that is a far cry from the modern sweet incarnations of chocolate today. Historians disagree over where exactly in Mesoamerica the trees first appeared, but…
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