Chocolate has fascinated people all over the world for thousands of years.
The Olmecs (1500 B.C. to 100 B.C.+) were the first people known to process and eat cacao beans, which they called kakaw. While the Mayans were perhaps the first chocoholics, describing cacao as “the food of the gods."
|"The Olmecs were the first people known to process and eat cacao beans, which they called kakaw."|
It turns out they were on to something. Today, 40 to 50 million people depend on cocoa for their livelihoods — and chocolate farmers produce 3.8 million tons of cocoa beans per year. U.S. chocolate manufacturers also use about 3.5 million pounds of whole milk every day to make milk chocolate.
Cote d'Ivoire is the single largest producer of cocoa, providing roughly 40 percent of the world's supply. And, each cacao tree produces about 2,500 beans.
As for the final product, the Swiss eat the most chocolate per capita, followed by the Irish and the British. But the United States isn't even in the Top 10.
Chocolate-lovers might even think their favorite treat defies words — and botanists agree.
Debate surrounds what the pod is, botanically. Some say it is a fruit, and others a berry. Many choose the middle ground and call the fruit baccate, which means "like a berry," but the bottom line is that the pod doesn’t fit into any existing categories.
Like chocolate, it’s indescribable.
With a rich history, and thriving future, chocolate remains a delicious treat and fasinating topic thousands of years after it was first discovered.
Dan Chambers, of Vantage House, takes us through a journey that starts in Mesoamerica and ends with a list of the top 10 chocolate loving countries of the modern world.
1. The Food of the Gods
2. Ancients in Mesoamerica
3. Chocolaty Facts: Did you know?
4. How is chocolate made?