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Our Blog: Chocolate Talk

Hedonist History Lesson: Cacao

history lessonDivinely Delicious

As hedonists, we have all had those experiences eating chocolate that are so sweet they almost seem spiritual. Though some may suggest that hedonism and an over indulgence in chocolate are sinful subjects, there are those devoted devourers that say cacao might as well be divine. And as it turns out, there is historical evidence that can support such a claim.

Mayan mythology suggests that cacao was given to the Maya by the Plumed Serpent, shortly after humans were created. Each year in April, the Maya would hold a festival to honor their cacao god, Ek Chuah. The act of giving chocolate as a gift may have origins within this celebration, as this event often included offerings of cacao that coincided with exchanges of gifts.

Columbus and the Canoe of Mysterious Almonds

Though Christopher Columbus is controversially credited with discovering what is now America, his more meaningful accomplishment may be his initial encounter with cacao. In 1502, Columbus and his crew were in Guanaja when they came across a canoe of what were described as “mysterious almonds.” Soon after, Spain would become enlightened by the existence of cacao. During a meeting with the Aztec emperor Moctezuma in 1512, Hernan Cortez noted the large quantities of a cacao beverage being consumed by the Aztec emperor. Cortez would then bring cacao beans back to Spain to introduce his country to the plant.

European knowledge of cacao would spread over the next century, with countries such as France, England, and Sweden adapting the culinary and medical uses of cacao. Today, cacao is a firmly established entity all over the world, being celebrated and utilized in numerous ways. Though we may not worship cacao in quite the same way today as the Maya did, most hedonists would agree that the first bite of chocolate on any given day still feels pretty heavenly.

 
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