Before It Was Chocolate, It Was Beer

Sweet treat traced to celebratory Honduran brew 3,100 years ago
By Marcia Greenwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2007 8:24 AM CST
The ancients' beer-like brew then evolved into a frothy, chocolatey drink.   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – Chocolate had its origins at least 3,100 years ago in Central America not as a sweet treat but as a celebratory beer-like beverage, reported scientists yesterday after analyzing residues from ancient pottery vessels. The earliest beverages made from cacao—the source of chocolate—likely were produced by fermenting the sweet pulp surrounding the seeds, according to Reuters.

The cacao brew, consumed by the upwardly mobile, may have evolved into the chocolate beverage not by design but as "an accidental byproduct of some brewing," said one of the researchers. The chocolate enjoyed by later Mesoamerican civilizations like the Maya and Aztecs was made from ground cacao seeds with added seasonings, producing a spicy, frothy drink.