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Monday, November 19, 2007

Chocolate invented 3,100 years ago by the Aztecs - but they were trying to make beer | the Daily Mail

Helge: Wonders of biotechnology happens by accident. We set a goal and end up somewhere else. The point with innovation is to keep on trying. Inventions don't happen, they are made.


Chocolate invented 3,100 years ago by the Aztecs - but they were trying to make beer | the Daily Mail: "Chocolate invented 3,100 years ago by the Aztecs - but they were trying to make beer Last updated at 11:40am on 13th November 2007 Comments Comments Scientists have discovered that chocolate was invented at least 3,100 years ago in Central America and not as the sweet treat people now crave, but as a celebratory beer-like beverage and status symbol."

Helge: The age of new inventions isn't over. But innovation centers have been around for a while.

This pushed back by at least 500 years the earliest documented use of cacao, an important luxury commodity in Mesoamerica before European invaders arrived and now the basis of the modern chocolate industry.

Helge: The volume of biological knowledge has grown and continues to grow phenomenally.

Cacao (pronounced cah-COW) seeds were used to make ceremonial beverages consumed by elites of the Aztecs and other civilizations, while also being used as a form of currency.

Helge: Chocolate Money. I've seen pics of contemporary chocolate money. There seems to be a long tail.

The Spanish conquistadors who shattered the Aztec empire in the 16th century were smitten with a chocolate beverage made from cacao seeds served in the palace of the emperor.

Helge: Fashion trends used to start at the top. Today an inventor has to be street or Internet smart to embrace the crowd, the masses, millions of users.

"The earliest cacao beverages consumed at Puerto Escondido were likely produced by fermenting the sweet pulp surrounding the seeds," the scientists wrote in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Helge: There is virtually no limit to the number of applications. Some days ago I blogged about an UK plant using chocolate waste products to produce biofuel.

One of the researchers, anthropologist John Henderson of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said cacao beverages were being concocted far earlier than previously believed - and it was a beer-like drink that started the chocolate craze.

Helge: Chocolate was the drink for kids when I was young.


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