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From Divine Drink to Modern Delight: The History of Cacao"

The cacao tree is a plant native to the Amazon rainforest in South America that was first domesticated around 5,300 years ago by indigenous peoples in the region. The Olmecs, a civilization in Central America, later introduced cacao to the region. Cacao has played a significant role in various Mesoamerican cultures, including the Olmecs, Izapan, Maya, Toltecs, Aztecs, and Incas, and was often used in rituals, ceremonies, and festivals. The beans of the cacao tree were also used as a form of currency due to their value. The word "cacao" comes from the Olmec and Mayan word "kakaw," and the official Latin name for the cacao tree is Theobroma Cacao, which means "food of the gods." When the Aztec emperor Montezuma hosted the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his officers, they were offered a cacao drink, which Cortés described as "the healthiest thing.

..The greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world." Europeans first encountered cacao in the early 16th century and were impressed by its flavor and cultural significance. The introduction of chocolate as we know it today, which includes the addition of sugar, milk powder, and other ingredients, was made possible through technological advances and the spread of cacao throughout Europe.

Cacao is still used in some traditional medicine practices, and its health benefits and effects on the body and mind are the subject of modern research.

The Ivory Coast, which was introduced to cacao by the French during colonization in the 18th century, is now the leading global producer of cocoa, accounting for 38% of the world's supply. West Africa as a whole supplies about two-thirds of the world's cocoa crop, with the Ivory Coast producing about 2.2 million tonnes annually. Cacao is grown in both the east and west of the Ivory Coast.

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