Cocoa

The cacao tree is native to the amazonic valleys. It was domesticated by the Olmecs and Mocayas (Mexico and Central America). More than 4,000 years ago, it was consumed by pre-Columbian cultures along the Yucatán, including the Mayans, and as far back as Olmeca civilization in spiritual ceremonies. It also grows in the foothills of the Andes in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, in Colombia and Venezuela. Wild cacao still grows there. Its range may have been larger in the past; evidence of its wild range may be obscured by cultivation of the tree in these areas since long before the Spanish arrived. New chemical analysis of residue extracted from pottery excavated at an archaeological site at Puerto Escondido, in Honduras, indicates that cocoa products were first consumed there sometime between 1500 and 1400 BC. Evidence also indicates that, long before the flavor of the cacao seed (or bean) became popular, the sweet pulp of the chocolate fruit, used in making a fermented (5% alcohol) beverage, first drew attention to the plant in the Americas.[9] The cocoa bean was a common currency throughout Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest.