The Cocoa Tree

photo of a cocoa nut

The cocoa nut


Written By: Gary Wonning

The cultivation and use of cocoa was begun early in Meso-America.

Studies suggest the tree was domesticated and originated in Amazonia. Cacao or Kakaw,  according to Maya belief was discovered by the gods in a mountain that also held other delectable foods that were used by the native Mayas.


Mayan mythology states that after humans were created from maize the Plumed Serpent gave cacao to the Mayas. Cocoa was regularly given as a sacrifice to the many Mayan Gods , often times priests would lance their ears and cover the cacao with their blood as a sacrifice. This ritual was only performed by the men, as cacao was thought to be toxic to women and children.

Soon the Maya learned to flavor the cocoa by mixing it with maize, chili, vanilla, peanut butter(the original Reese Cups) and honey. (Cookies and Cream came later.) It is believed the Aztecs learned to grind it and mix with tobacco .

Christopher Columbus was the first European to encounter cocoa after capturing a canoe at Guanaja  and finding a large quantity of odd looking almonds. From this encounter cocoa naturally spread throughout Europe and became a popular drink the world over.

photo of a Mayan Pyramid

An interesting photo book about the Maya Indians of central America

The author has been a writer/photographer for over thirty years. Specializing in nature and landscape photography, as well as studying native cultures.

His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.

He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.

He has published several books about his adventures.

For more information, please consult his website,

Your comments are welcome.


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