Scientists Hunt for New Chocolate Flavors
American and Peruvian researchers scour the Amazon for wild cacao trees
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2011 11:16 AM CDT
Different sorts of chocolates are displayed during the first symposium on cacao and chocolate of Latin America, in Lima, in 2010.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – In 2008 and 2009, American and Peruvian scientists joined forces on a hunt for sweet treasure—new kinds of chocolate. They explored the Amazon Basin, searching for wild cacao trees—which produce the beans that go into chocolate—and discovered 342 specimens from 12 watersheds, reports NPR. Each new cacao type could potentially grow into a new delicious strain of chocolate, but it'll be several years before the slow-sprouting trees hatch beans.

Although chocolate was introduced to the Old World by Christopher Columbus 500 years ago and now fuels a $93 billion industry, humans have still sampled only a few of the legion chocolate flavors that naturally exist. "It's pretty amazing that this crop that we've been growing (for hundreds of years)— we still know so little about it," remarks a scientist from the USDA's Agricultural Research Service.