Mexican Cacao: Origins Of Chocolate

I already knew that the cacao bean is native to Mexico, and that chocolate in Mexico is generally consumed in different ways to that of Europe and America, where fatty milk and vegetable oil is added. I wanted to design and produce packaging for the branding of a real Mexican chocolate company, that would cater for Europeans that want a taste of 'real' chocolate. This design challenge transcends across both branding and packaging design, and so consideration into the overall feel of the product is imperative.

By reading up on the origins of chocolate here, I can obtain a better understanding of chocolate as a cultural food stuff.

'The first proven chocoholics were in fact the ancient Maya of southeast Mexico who enjoyed chocolate’s pleasures and health benefits almost three thousand years ago! Drinking chocolate was so popular in prehispanic Mexico that the tradition was still going strong when the Spanish arrived in 1519. It is said that Montezuma, the Aztec Emperor, drank cups of chocolate foam every evening before visiting his harem.

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, the highly nutritious seeds of the forest tree Theobroma Cacao (“Food of the Gods”), native to Mexico. The Maya planted large cacao plantations in Tabasco and Chiapas, and formed trade routes to supply their outposts all over Central America. The supply of cacao was so important that the Aztecs controlled major plantations hundreds of miles from their capital.

Cacao (kah-KOW, a Mayan word) was offered as tribute to Gods and leaders, as well as having value in day-to-day life as the region’s financial currency. For the Aztecs, cacao was a gift from their most revered God, Quetzalcoatl, forming a bridge between heaven and earth.'

Chocolate originates in Mexico with the Mayans using it for special occasions, and was given to people of high ranking in society, as well as everyone else, and was used for medicinal purposes as well as for pleasure. Chocolate isn't just a favoured condiment in Mexico, it forms it's identity, and cultural fabric.

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