All those chocolate addicts need to thank beer brewers for the sweet they can't get enough of, for a new research has traced the origins of chocolate to makers of the drink more than 3,000 years ago.
The date has also surprised researchers, for it shows that people started consuming chocolate 500 years earlier than thought. The researchers believe that chocolate was discovered by accident by Central American Indians making beer - when they used the pulp of cacao seedpods while making the drink.
The new findings about chocolate's origins came to light after traces of cacao were found on pottery fragments dating from about 1100 B.C. to 800 B.C. The pottery was discovered at archaeological excavations near Puerto Escondido in Honduras between 1995 and 2000.
Study author Rosemary Joyce, an anthropologist at University of California, Berkeley says that there would be a vast difference between the chocolate made today, and that made around 1100 B.C. when the ancient beer makers fermented cacao's seedpods and then used the pulp to make beer, discarding the seeds.
"It was beer with a high kick. But it would not have tasted anything like the chocolate we have today," National Geographic quoted her, as saying.
About 300 years later, however, a more familiar form came into being when the Indians started using the discarded fermented seeds to make a non-alcoholic beverage, served to celebrate special occasions such as marriages and births.
This found its way to Europe when it was taken there by the Spanish conquerors. Alice Medrich, author of Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate, in an email wrote that the new research could "fuel creativity and spark the imagination of chocolatiers and chefs."
"As a result, we get new ideas about using chocolate in savory as well as sweet dishes and about pairing the flavors of chocolate with other flavors, too," Medrich said.
"New dishes and new trends are born. And new ideas spread from the most innovative and elite kitchens quickly, ultimately becoming products on supermarket shelves."