Every one loves a bar of chocolate – but what would you say if you could pay the gas bill with a box of chocolates or buy a car with chocolate eclairs? Well, if you lived in Central America round about the 1500’s – chocolate (or at least the cocoa bean) was hard currency and, according to some, more valuable than gold. |
The Cocoa Bean in Central American Cultures
Chocolate traces its origins back well over 10,000 years to South America. The Mayans are reputed to be the first people to actually cultivate the cacoa trees and they used the beans to produce an alcoholic chocolate drink known as xocoatl. But their drink bore no resemblance to the dinking chocolate sold by wholesale chocolate suppliers today – it was flavoured with spices and exceedingly bitter. The Mayans also began using the cocoa bean as money and a form of barter.
The Aztecs, who conquered much of the Mayan empire, adopted their cultivation of the cacoa tree and benefited from the value of its beans. The believed that the cocoa bean was a gift from the all-powerful God of Wisdom, Quetzalcoatl. Cocoa beans were fermented and mixed with wine or a corn puree that resulted in a very bitter drink reputed to have aphrodisiacal effects. This secret of making the drink and the right to “enjoy” this concoction was restricted to the wealthiest members of Aztec society and high officials - the ordinary man in the street was not permitted to taste it. By the time of the Spanish invasion of South and Central America, cocoa was more valuable than gold!
Wholesale Chocolate: Worth its Weight in Gold?
The original Spanish conquistadors, led by Cortez, were amazed to find a currency based on a bean rather than gold. When Cortez landed in South America in the 1500’s, he found a civilization where a copper hatchet was worth some 10,000 cocoa beans but a rabbit just ten and a slave only 100.
The Spanish soon realised that the bean had many possibilities other than money. They began exporting cocoa products and an early form of drinking chocolate with added sugar to Europe where it became an instant hit. But, just as with the Aztecs, it was restricted to the very wealthy due to the high cost of bringing it from South America to Europe.
True Pleasure Grows on the Cocoa Tree
The legacies of the Aztecs and Cortez have been embraced by manufactures and wholesale chocolate suppliers who now provide an amazing range of confectionery for us to enjoy.
Imagine a world where cocoa and chocolate were more expensive and desirable than gold? Think how this could have changed the face of the world and made wholesale chocolate suppliers the richest people on earth – but at the same time, deprived us of one of our most favourite confections.
Today, cocoa may not be as valuable as gold – but in the hearts of the great British public, eating a good bar of chocolate or being given a box of chocolates as a present is almost as good – and some say even better!
Angelina Moufftard works for hf Chocolates, established wholesale chocolates suppliers with decades of experience supplying sweets and high-end chocolates to retailers across the UK. Working with the most dedicated suppliers from France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, the USA and the UK, hf Chocolates' great tasting and beautifully packaged products add panache to any sweet display.
Related Articles -