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Chocolate Club

History of chocolate

History of chocolate, so accustomed us presently, began more than 3000 years ago.

About 1500 BC in lowlands of ashore Gulf of mexico in America appeared a civilization of Olmec. Their culture has left us much little, but some linguists suppose that word "cacao" for the first time has sounded as "kakawa" approximately 1000 BC, at moment of bloom to Olmec civilization.

Later Maya civilization comes on change of Olmecs. The ancestors of the Classic Maya entered the lowlands of northern Guatemala around 1000 BC. Until then, they lived (and many Maya still do) in the highlands of Guatemala and the Mexican state of Chiapas. Here cacao must have been very rare, if known at all.

However coming down from highlands, Maya have found and steels to cultivated wild cacao, and as once in that period sooner the whole and appeared modern pronunciation of word "ърърю".

In 250 AD a development of Maya culture fell into its classical phase. Approximately in 600 A.D (1400 years ago) the Mayans establishes the earliest known cacao plantations (The right picture shows the cacao god of the Classic Maya). They were raised awesome city of Maya, with their temple-pyramids and cruel rulers. Before its falling in 9 ages of our era on its architecture of Maya cities exceeded architecture of ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy.

Chocolate was a luxury amongst the Maya, not only in life but also in death. Even in death the Maya nobles shouldn't miss chocolate. The picture shows a jar from a tomb at Rio Azul, Guatemala. The vessel contained the chocolate drink when it was put down in the tomb.

It is not right that the Maya knew only one sole chocolate drink. In fact they had a well developed sense for adding different flavorings to the chocolate. The linguists has identified the phrases "witik cacao" and "kox cacao", but they haven't been able to find out what they mean.

Another flavouring often used in chocolate is "piment". In many books this word has been translated that as pepper, but thats incorrect. The true translation of the word is allspice. Pepper wasn't known in the new world before the conquest by the Spains.

In the 9th century AD the Classic Maya culture began to crumble. Due to overpopulation and environmental degradation the the "Classic Maya Collapse" occured. About 1000 AD the Toltecs entered the stage. The power was teirs until som time in the middle of the 12th century, where the Toltec culture began to collapse as a result of internal dissention and revolt.

The Aztecs took over control of Mexico and the sorrounding areas around AD 1200. They kept control until they were defeated by the spaniards in 1521. In most books about chocolate, it is the Aztecs who are given the credit for domesticating the cacao tree and inventing the chocolate drink. As we have allready seen, this is not true. The Aztecs have however, played a great role in the developement of the use of cacao in "The New World".

Aztec legend states that cacao seeds have got to us from Paradise and that from fruit cacao-trees come wisdom and power.

The picture shows the boundary of the Aztec empire 1519 - right before they were defeated by the spaniards. The most imporataint area is Xoconochco (emphasized on the map) which the Aztecs conquered some time between 1486 and 1502. This gave the Aztec empire access to the best cacao plantations in the area.

Xoconochco is isolated from the rest of the Aztec empire, so the long-distance merchants played a very important role in the transportation of cacao beans to the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan.

As you may allready know from other sources, the cacao beans served as money in the Aztec empire. Therefore the amount off cacao beans held in the royal sotorehouses in the empire were astounding.

One load of cacao, which was the amount that was in a backpack of a trader, counted 24000 beans. This is equal to three "xipuipillis".

A source tells us, that the palace of Nezahualcoyotl had to suply 4 xipuipillis - this gives 32.000, cacao beans per day. In a year this amounts to 11.680.00 beans - just over 486 loads.

The amounts mentioned above is nothing however compared to the cacao warehouse of Motecuhzoma, the famous Aztec emperor of many legends. This warehouse was said to contain more than 40.000 loads of cacao beans, which would mean more than 960.000.000 beans! We have no definitive confirmation of this, but there's no doubt the warehouse contained a huge amount of cacao.

Maya called prepared drink from cocoa beans "xocolatl", Aztecs - "cacahuatl"; the Mexican Indian word "chocolate" comes from a combination of the words "choco" ("foam") and "atl" ("water") (early chocolate was only consumed in beverage form).

Known that Christopher Columbus bring cacao-bobs to King Ferdinand from his fourth expedition in the New world, but nobody did turn on them emphases in view of the big amount other treasures, broughted by Columbus.

In following 100 years after Columbus chocolate has appeared and in the Europe. Costing on 10-15 shillings for the pound, chocolate was considered by the drink for the elite class. Sixteenth-century Spanish historian Oviedo noted: "None but the rich and noble could afford to drink chocolatl as it was literally drinking money. Cocoa passed currency as money among all nations; thus a rabbit in Nicaragua sold for 10 cocoa nibs, and 100 of these seeds could buy a tolerably good slave."

Chocolate was used as medical remedy leading by leading healers of that time. So, Christopher Ludwig Hoffmann recommended chocolate as remedy against many diseases, referencing on experience of treatment of Cardinal Richelieu.

With development of industry chocolate become more it is available, in it adds varied additives: milk, spices, different sweeteners, wine and even beer. If originally chocolate was considered solely by male drink, hereinafter it become loved children's drink.

In 1674 appears rolls and cakes with chocolate . This date is a date of appearances of eating chocolate, which possible was not only drink, as well as eat.