Where Does Chocolate Come From?
Chocolate is produced from the beans of the cacao tree, which grows near the equator. The beans are produced in the pods of the tree. In the earlier days when people were just beginning to make cocoa beans out of the cocoa trees, the beans were considered extremely precious – almost like money. So much so that some people even paid their taxes in cocoa beans.
Inside each pod on the cacao tree are anywhere from 30-50 bitter seeds, which wouldn’t taste very good if you ate them! To turn them into something tastier, the seeds are fermented (allowed to heat naturally), dried (usually in the sun), and then sent to a factory for cleaning, roasting, cracking, crushing and grinding!
The grinding releases the dark chocolate liquor, which is the base of all chocolate products. When the early Spanish explorers discovered Mexico, they also discovered the Aztec Indians using the cacao beans to make a bitter-tasting drink called chocolatl. But it wasn’t until sugar and vanilla were added that chocolate became a popular flavor.