During the time of the Aztecs, cocoa was mainly used as a beverage. Wines and drinks were made from white pulp around the seeds of the cocoa pod. The beans themselves were used to make hot or cold chocolate drinks. Both the Maya and the Aztec secular drinks used roasted cocoa beans, a foaming agent (sugir), toasted corn and water. Vanilla and/or chilli were also used as an ingredient in the drinks. Cocoa beans were also used as a currency and as a tribute (tax) from peoples ruled by Aztecs. The oily layer floating in the chocolate drink (cocoa butter) was used to protect the skin against the sun. For the Aztecs cocoa had a religious significance. Cocoa was believed to be of divine origin: the cocoa tree was a bridge between earth and heaven. Human sacrifices to propitiate God or sun were first sanctified by giving him chocolate. Cocoa beans were given to priest's assistants at children's coming of age ceremonies. During marriage ceremonies, the couple drank a symbolic cup of chocolate and exchanged cocoa beans. Aztecs believed that drinking chocolate gave mortals some of Quetzalcoatl's (God of learning and of the wind) wisdom.
Cox, C. Chocolate unwrapped. Women's Environmental Network, 1993
Coe, S. & Coe, M. The true history of chocolate. Thames & Hudson, 1996
Khodorowsky, K. & Robert, H. Chocolate from A-Z. Flammarion, 1997
Morton, M. & Morton, F. Chocolate. An illustrated history. Crown, 1986
Young, A.M. The chocolate tree. Smithsonian Institute Press, 1994
Lees, R. A history of sweet and chocolate manufacture. Specialised Publications, 1988
International Cocoa Organization
1-19 New Oxford Street
London WC1A 1NU
Tel: +44 (0)20 7400 5050
Fax: +44 (0)20 7421 5500
The ICCO International Cocoa Agreement is available to download in Acrobat PDF format.
The procedures for becoming a member of the International Cocoa Organization are provided in Articles 52 to 57 of the International Cocoa Agreement, 2010.