The history of this fruit is tied to Ecuador from the first records over 5,000 years ago. Get to know the story of the Ecuadorian “golden seed” in the history of worldwide chocolate-manufacturing.
Until recently, the first historical records stated that cacao cultivation and use originated in Central and North America with the Aztecs, Mayans, Toltecs, who started consuming it more than 2,000 thousand years before its expansion to the rest of America.
New scientific findings, however, determined that cacao consumption was a common practice more than 5,000 thousand years ago in the Ecuadorian Amazon Region.
In the community of Palanda, Zamora Chinchipe Province, graves with the remains of food offerings, including cacao traces, were found at the site where archaeologist Francisco Valdez carried out his excavations and studies. This is documented by The Gran Cacao audiovisual series, produced by the Ecuadorian Institute of Intellectual Property in 2014. Settled in what is now known as the town of Palanda, the Mayo-Chinchipe culture natives lived in the southern Ecuadorian Amazon at least 5,500 years ago, as proved by carbon 14 tests.
This culture was organized into villages and buildings with circular shapes and lived of agriculture. It is the oldest recorded civilization in the western part of the Amazon.
Recent findings in the area, like seashells (strombus and spondylus), have determined that their organization had a certain level of ”social sophistication” and suggest their exchange modalities with other ethnic groups on the Pacific Coast Region.
The obroma (cacao’s scientific name) traces found in jars and urns suggest they used cacao to prepare an energizing drink, produced with Amazonian cacao, which was so important for those who were part of this culture that it was even “sent to the afterlife with the dead.” The variety of cacao grown by the Amazonian culture was precisely that which characterizes the country, Fine Aroma Cacao.
These remains were found at the Santa Ana - La Florida site, located 1,040 meters above sea level. Amazon cacao, then, says archaeologist Francisco Valdez, was taken by some mechanism toward the center of America.
Once it arrived there, it acquired great cultural importance and it was exported to Europe during colonial times.
Years later, that raw material turned into the delicious chocolate that would become part of the cultural heritage of the Old Continent, which after hundreds of years of tradition, today, even has its own promotional association, The Chocolate Way.