View of cacao and ground up chocolate
Before We Had Chocolate Bars, Cacao Was Actually A Form Of Currency
By Nick Johnson
It’s hard to imagine a time when chocolate wasn’t just a staple of the dessert sphere, but it wasn’t always just seen as a sweet treat. Cacao beans used to hold a key position in culture — at one time, a cacao pod could be worth a pretty penny.
Most of chocolate’s early history is associated with the Mayans, and to them, the worth of chocolate wasn’t merely an abstract concept. A painting dating back to the mid-seventh century depicts a woman giving a man a hot bowl of chocolate in exchange for a lump of tamale dough.
Cacao beans had specific monetary value attached to them, and many art pieces feature bags of cacao labeled with the number of individual beans carried within them used in a trade setting. These depictions strongly suggest that cacao beans played a similar role in Mayan society to that of coins in the modern world.