Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Latest Chocolate Pre-History News

Every now and then I share a health study with you all and try to point out questions we should ask before we accept the hype that inevitably happens as candy makers jump on the bandwagon and try to use skewed results to sell more products.  Today I want to share a different type of scientific study with you all: a look into the pre-history of chocolate presented in this article from the The American Association for the Advancement of Science, "Triple A-S" (AAAS) that one of our Acolytes, Rene, brought to my attention.

As you hopefully know chocolate seems to have developed first in Mesoamerica where the cacao trees grew naturally. Recently the wife and husband team of Dorothy and William Washburn announced that they has found theobromine and caffeine in bowls from an 8th century ce village in Utah.  If their assumption that this is chocolate proves correct this would radically change the standard pre-history of the Southwestern United States as well as the understanding of either trade or the movement of people between the Americas.

However while reading this article and the reservations about the findings from other scholars I notice no one is mentioning this concern: Theobromine and caffeine are not found only in chocolate.  So simply finding these two chemicals does not mean you have found chocolate.  In fact tea, three types of holly berries, guarana berry, and kola nut all contain both of these chemicals. However of these only only cacao and possibly holly berries are native to the Americas so it is a fair assumption to think they may have found evidence of cacao beans at this site.

We'll have to wait and see what further research reveals.

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