The fact that chocolate is so easily accessible in today’s world scarcely indicates a connection to hierarchical structures. The fact that it is manufactured on a large scale as a confectionary item and that it may be consumed in various forms and to varying degrees of quality discloses very little regarding its extensive history.
In the cultures of Mesoamerica, chocolate, or more specifically the bean that chocolate is derived from, represented riches as well as societal and religious rank years before the advent of European settlers in America.
It is very obvious that cocoa and religions have had a link ever since the archaic traditions of the Mokaya, Olmec, Aztec and Maya cultures and societies, all the way up to those of the Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Before they could be given as presents on birthdays, served with different fruits and nuts, chocolates had to shake their reputation as an immoral luxury and withstand the criticism of religious leaders.
Oldest Known Use of Cocoa
The discovery of a tiny pot in southern Mexico that had chocolate leftovers in the year 1900 B.C. is credited as providing evidence of the first known usage of cocoa. Researchers believe that it was created by the Mokaya tribe, also known as the corn people, a pre-Olmec civilization residing in the Soconusco area.
Cacao was prepared into both a non-sweetened beverage and an alcoholic beverage for use by the Olmec people. The Maya people embraced it, and subsequently, the Aztecs did as well. They termed it xocolatl, literally meaning bitter water in their language.
It was a delicacy for the Maya people, and it was an important part of their ceremonial rituals. Not only was it an offering to the deities, but the people of that time thought that drinking it bestowed life, knowledge, intelligence, and power on the person who consumed it.
It is also reported that the Aztec rulers used it as an aphrodisiac to put their women in the scene for love so that they could have more intimate relationships with them. It was utilized in every aspect of life, from the beginning as a gift at birth to the end as a companion to nourishment after mortality.
The Religious Aspect
Chocolate has triumphed over a long voyage out of its cocoa plants and millennia of innovation in processing techniques, as well as a major conflict with the Catholic Church. Fasting was far more common in Catholic Christianity back then than they are now. Like Lent and Advent, Fridays and frequently subsequent days were vegetarian and demanded abstention from indulgences.
Priests disagreed on whether the famous chocolate beverage should be permitted during religious fasting days, as Christians were only supposed to consume water and wine. The argument continued all the way up to the top authorities, and in the year 1662, Pope Alexander VII put an end to the argument about chocolate and fasting. He said that drinking any liquids, even the chocolate drink, would not cause the fast to be broken.
As a direct result of this, the nuns and priests played a significant role in disseminating delectable food throughout Europe. Even in modern times, Trappist monasteries specialize in the production of chocolates for consumption; these chocolates have gained a great deal of notoriety. You can find different kinds of top-quality Trappist monastery chocolates on Holyart, including cocoa powders and chocolate spreads.
Chocolate in the New World
The chocolate industry is responsible for over $50 billion in annual revenue, and Europeans are the world’s biggest consumers of chocolate, producing or consuming upwards of 45% of all chocolate. West Africa is currently the world’s greatest supplier of cocoa, dethroning the Americas as the previous leader. Despite the fact that there are still problems with child labor in some regions of West Africa, ethical trading chocolate is available for purchase. The chocolate business provides a livelihood for 50 million workers throughout the world.
Also, chocolate hasn’t ever totally left the religious world, as seen that a large number of youngsters are familiar with chocolates due to the fact that some of their earliest memories involve chocolate Easter eggs, chocolate Easter bunnies, or even Halloween treats.