Traditional pre-Hispanic beverages made with cacao are still consumed in Mexico.
Cacao was offered regularly to a pantheon of Mexica deities and the Madrid Codex depicts priests lancing their ear lobes (autosacrifice) and covering the cacao with blood as a suitable sacrifice to the gods.
Cacao, or the cocoa plant, is a small, tropical New World, evergreen tree, Theobroma cacao, that is widely cultivated for its seeds, which are used to make chocolate, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder.
Cultivation and use of cacao were extensive and early in Mesoamerica.
The word cacao itself derives from the Nahuatl (Aztec language) word cacahuatl, learned at the time of the conquest, when it was first encountered by the Spanish.
The cacao beverage as ritual were used only by men, as it was believed to be toxic for women and children.
Cacao is described in ancient texts, for ceremonial, medicinal, and culinary uses.
Over 90 percent of the world’s cacao is grown by smallholder farmers, who overwhelmingly make little or no use of fertilizers and agro-chemicals (Eskes and Efron 2006.
The fruitlets of a pineapple are arranged in two interlocking spirals, eight spirals in one direction, thirteen in the other; each being a Fibonacci number.
The Nahuatl-derived Spanish word cacao entered scientific nomenclature in 1753 after the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus published his taxonomic binomial system and coined the genus and species Theobroma ("food of the gods") cacao.
Demand for this beverage led the French to establish cacao plantations in the Caribbean, while Spain subsequently developed their cacao plantations in their Philippine colony (Coe and Coe 1996).
The cacao bean in 80 percent of chocolate is made using beans of the Forastero Group.
According to this mythology, the Plumed Serpent gave cacao to the Maya after humans were created from maize by divine grandmother goddess Xmucane (Coe and Coe 1996).
At one point, the Aztec empire received a yearly tribute of 980 loads (xiquipil in nahuatl) of cacao, in addition to other goods.
Cacao is cultivated on over 70,000 kmІ (27,000 miІ) worldwide.
T. cacao is a small plant that grows to about 4 to 8 meters in height (15 to 26 feet).
Cacao beans constituted both a ritual beverage and a major currency system in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations.
Mayan mythology held that cacao (kakaw) was discovered by the gods in a mountain that also contained other desirable foods to be used by the Maya.
Cacao, or the cocoa plant, Theobroma cacao, is a member of the Sterculiaceae (alternatively Malvaceae) family of flowering plants.
The use of cacao beans as currency is also known to have spawned counterfeiters during the Aztec empire (Coe 1994).
Forastero trees are significantly hardier than Criollo trees, resulting in cheaper cacao beans.