Chocolate bean of South America, which the Mayans and Aztecs ground into hot water and drank. They also used it as currency.

The beans grow on a tree cacao theobroma pollinated by midges and bats. Each pod contains 20 to 50 beans.

Columbus brought cacao back to Europe in 1502. It wasn't popular until they learned to add sugar to it.

The first sweetener added to cacao products was actually vanilla. That's what the natives used; for a long while, cocoa was also sweetened with vanilla in Europe. As arfarf pointed out, it took stronger sweeteners to make chocolate a classic.

Ca*ca"o (?), n. [Sp., fr. Mex. kakahuatl. Cf. Cocoa, Chocolate] Bot.

A small evergreen tree (Theobroma Cacao) of South America and the West Indies. Its fruit contains an edible pulp, inclosing seeds about the size of an almond, from which cocoa, chocolate, and broma are prepared.


© Webster 1913.

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