Published June 25, 2007 by
The Aztecs were credited with the discovery of chocolate gifts. The Olmec Indians of South and Central America, ancestors of the Aztecs, were the first known to use the fruit of the cacao tree. Mayans first created a beverage made by roasting and pounding the raw cacao beans with maize and Capsicum peppers and letting the mixture ferment. Cacao is the Mayan word meaning "God Food"
The Aztecs could not cultivate the cacao tree, as they existed at a much higher altitude where the climate was not suitable. They acquired the beans through trade - and war. The Aztecs used cacao beans for religious services, gifts and even as currency.
The Aztecs created their own beverage by roasting the beans and grounding them into a paste. They mixed them with water and maize flavored with chilies. It was called xocolatl (pronounced "shoco-latle").
In 1519 AD, Montezuma introduced Spanish explorer Hernan Cortéz, to the drink. Finding the name hard to pronounce, he called it Chocolat - which was later changed to Chocolate. Montezuma, who valued chocolate more than gold or silver, said of it, "The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food."
Chocolate has long been thought to help improve libido and was given as an offering by the Aztecs to the God of Fertility. Casanova was known to take a cup of cocoa before bed as an aphrodisiac. Science has proven that there are valid reasons for these claims. The following elements support this theory:
So, the next time you're feeling stressed but don't want to make it worse by eating, consider a chocolate bar! It may very well be better than "an apple a day", and in any case, it certainly tastes better!