The Columbian Exchange: Chocolate Essay

The Columbian Exchange: Chocolate Essay

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The Columbian Exchange: Chocolate
During the time frame of 1450-1750, the Columbian Exchange was at its height of power and influence. Many products were introduced from foreign lands, like animals such as cattle, chickens, and horse, and agriculture such as potatoes, bananas, and avocados. Diseases also became widespread and persisted to distant lands where it wreaked devastation upon the non-immunized people. One such influential product during this time period was the cacao, or more commonly known as chocolate. First discovered and used in the Americas, cacao beans quickly traveled to and became a popular treat in European lands. It was valuable in the New World and even used as a currency by the Aztecs. Only the rich and privileged were allowed to purchase the valuable item in the beginning. Cacao was even used in religious ceremonies by the native people. When it moved to Europe and other lands, it also created a lot of stir. The cacao plant had quite a large impact upon the Columbian Exchange.
Chocolate or cacao was first discovered by the Europeans as a New World plant, as the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. In Latin, Theobroma literally means: “food of the Gods” (Bugbee, Cacao and Chocolate: A Short History of Their Production and Use). Originally found and cultivated in Mexico, Central America and Northern South America, its earliest documented use is around 1100 BC. The majority of the Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages, including the Aztecs, who made it into a beverage known as xocolātl, a Nahuatl word meaning “bitter water” (Grivetti; Howard-Yana, Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage). It was also a beverage in Mayan tradition that served a function as a ceremonial item. The cacao plant is g...


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...South America and became important export crops in West Africa in the 20th century. While little information was provided on our specific topic, this source was useful for the information of the Columbian Exchange.

Nunn, Nathan, and Nancy Qian. "The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food, and Ideas." Journal of Economic Perspectives. Yale University, 2010. Web. 12 Oct. 2013. .
This source was one of the most useful for the research of the collateral. It is a PDF file of the Columbian Exchange and all the background information of the trade, as well as an extensive list of foods are provided. Cacao beans, while not a staple crop, was very influential in the trade network. This journal was useful in providing details on the importance of cacao, and its significance over time.


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