The Aztecs and Maya’s used chocolate as currency.
The history of chocolate pretty much begins with the Mayans. Cacao beans were so valuable to them that they were used as currency. It was the Maya Indians, an ancient people whose descendants still live in Central America, who first discovered the delights of cocoa as long ago as 600 AD. The Mayan people lived on the Yucatan Peninsula, a tropical area in what is now Southern Mexico, where wild cocoa trees grew.
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They harvested cocoa beans from the rain forest trees, then cleared areas of lowland forest to grow their own cocoa trees in the first known cocoa plantations. A drink called ‘chocolatl’ made from roasted cocoa beans, water and a little spice was their primary use, but cocoa beans were also valued as currency. The Mayans had very many complicated religious beliefs with many gods.
Ek Chuah, the merchant god, was closely linked with cocoa and cocoa fruits were used at festivals in his honour. Merchants often traded cocoa beans for other commodities, cloth, jade and ceremonial feathers It is said that ten beans could buy a rabbit. And one hundred beans were enough to buy a slave, though slavery in those days was a much different institution in many ways.
When the Aztecs came along they adopted these traditions and continued using cacao beans as currency.
People would buy everything from livestock, to food and tools with the beans and some people actually created counterfeit beans using clay.
Generally only the richer people drank chocolate regularly though, because drinking your money is expensive.
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