"The Maya have always lived in a sacred world, opposed to the profane world. They seek the subjective, the mystery of things, what cannot be seen but what is the real and the symbolic thing. All their relations with nature, work or daily exchanges, have a sacred meaning, even the fact to be fed is not a purely organic question, but rather sacred. Therefore, among them, existed food and beverages that were symbolic objects, especially the ones related to their ceremonies." (Bernard A., Lozano)
The History of Chocolate
2,500 years ago in the Maya lowlands, (where we get our cacao from) the Maya were making a chocolate drink from cacao. In the beginning of the 17th Century, a delegation of Quechi Maya nobles from Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, introduced the cacao drink to the Spanish court, BEFORE coffee or tea were introduced!
Chocolate remained an elite drink, too expensive for the average person to enjoy, and often, even forbidden....Until a Dutchman, (Mr. Van Houten) invented a way of making the drink into a solid- the first candy bar! Chocolate became "big business" and the cultivation of the cacao tree was spread.
Common Name: Cacao, or Kakaw.
Botanic Name: Theobroma cacao (given by Carl Linnaeus, which in Latin means: Food of the Gods.)
Indigenous Names: Cacahualtl (Náhualt), Xau (Maya), Cacau (Yucatán), Caco (Pocomchí) Kicou or Kikob (Pocomchi)
Cu-culat (Salamá) Pacxoc (Huehuetenango) Xau, Kaka-we Balmate (Maya)
Uses: Its main use today is to make chocolate. It is believed that the Ancient Maya used the seeds as currency, meaning, there was a time when money actually DID grow on trees!
The Mayans of Guatemala tell of the creation of the world in their book, the Popol Vuh. The name means "Record of the Community." According to popular translations, the head of Jun-Junajpu is likened to a calabash gourd. In other translations, and more likely, it is represented as a CACAO pod.
The association with cacao continues in Jun Junajpu's offspring, the Hero Twins, Junajpu and Ixbalanque. Their self-sacrifice in the underworld parallels the stages of cacao processing: entrance into the underworld; burial, fermentation, burning (roasting), and then grinding of their bones on a metate, and pouring them into water. Hence, the name of our company: Junajpu. In honor of the first chocolate makers! (more info here)