If there’s one thing the people of Belize value highly, it’s their Belizean chocolate. In fact, they have the Mayans, one of the largest ancient human civilizations that lived in Belize and other parts of Central America, to thank for the chocolate we all know and love today. However, the traditional Mayan chocolate is surprisingly different from the sugary and creamy product we are used to. It was originally served as a sacred chocolate drink, called Xocoatl, to kings and during ceremonial times. Making this drink consists of multiple steps that laid the foundation for all future chocolate making all over the globe: 

Step 1: Removal of the cocoa beans

Kim Amelsberg

First, the actual beans must be removed from the cocoa fruit. These beans are covered in white slime and are fairly tasteless, and have nothing in common with the dark rich smell and taste of chocolate.

Step 2: Fermentation 

Next, the beans are fermented for 9-14 days, washed, and dried out in the sun- now the beans already look darker and resemble chocolate more. These days of fermentation are especially important because they are responsible for the chocolate flavor and create many of the oils that make chocolate so delicious.

Step 3: Grinding the beans

Kim Amelsberg

Now the shells are removed to get to the inner cocoa bean. Then the beans are ground up with a large half-oval shaped stone and a smaller stone to roll and crush the beans. It takes a lot of physical power to get to a fine paste without any chunks of bean left in it.

Step 4: The finished product!

Kim Amelsberg

This paste is then put in a bowl or mug with different combinations of honey, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, etc. The whole thing is then mixed with hot water to achieve a mud-like consistency that is then ready to be served. Some chocolate is also made into the bars we are used to in America. 

So how did we get Hershey's from this religious beverage? Once the Spaniards traveling in Central America discovered this hidden treasure, they brought it to Spain. From there, Belizean chocolate making spread over the world to be adapted to all different cultures by adding flavoring with dairy, sugar, vanilla, etc. However, Belizean chocolate still remains devoid of most of this processing to this day to retain the integrity of their traditional product. Another reason to go an treat yo self with some Belizean chocolate!