Ancient chocolate was an offshoot of the beer industry

18 November 2007




theobroma_cacaoA new study out this week has revealed that chocolate was discovered by accident as a by-product of the beer-making process.

Not only that, but archaeologists have also found that chocoholics have been around for at least 3000 years, which is 500 years longer than was previously thought.

It was the central American Indians who first invented chocolate - and it now seems that they might have stumbled on the delicious treat only after they had been making beer for several hundred years from the same plant that chocolate is made of - called cacao.

In this chocolatey study, researchers from several American universities have extracted and identified residues of cacao from the pores of fragments of ancient pottery found in Honduras that date back to the second millennium BC.

Today, we make chocolate from the fermented seed pods cacao, and it was tell-tail traces of a compound found in cacao called theobromine that was found in these pottery shards

But before they made chocolate, people used cacao to brew a type of beer called chica that is still drunk today by tribes in South America.

Ancient makers fermented the cacao seedpods, and used the pulp to make beer from, throwing away the seeds. 

The type of pottery container that the ancient cacao residues were found in was the type that beer was served in.

And it was another three hundred years until people started using the discarded fermented seedpods to make a frothy non-alcoholic drink that came to be highly prized even though it must have tasted dreadfully bitter - the forerunner of our modern day chocolate.


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