Cocoa Butter History

Cocoa Butter History

The Main Ingredient

We are all familiar with cocoa butter.  Many don’t know that it is the main ingredient that gives chocolate its substance, consistency and melting properties. Cocoa butter is a rich natural fat that comes from the cacao beans which are inside of the pods of the cacao tree.  The tree is also known as the chocolate tree. The name chocolate comes from the Mayan term “Xocolatl”.  One may refer to the chocolate/ Cacao tree as Cocoa and Cacao. However, the difference between these two is that Cacao is the name given to the raw unprocessed beans, that are found in their fruit pods.  Cocoa is the name that is given to the beans after they have already been harvested and processed.

Cocoa Butter History

In West Africa, more than half of the worlds cocoa butter is produced.  It is also produced in other parts of the world. You can find them in places such as Central and South America and in the carribean.  For centuries Cacao beans have been harvested to produce cocoa butter. This butter is an emollient that has a mild chocolate aroma and is used as a moisturizer.  For this reason, it heals and protects the skin and hair. It protects against dangerous chemicals and the effects of the sun and wind.

Cocoa Butter History Uses

Some other uses for Cocoa butter has been manufacturing of toiletries pharmaceuticals, culinary purposes. Over time the Cacao fruit was made popular for its medicinal purposes. This includes intestinal infections and diarrhea, regulate thyroid, reduce secretions, and as a stimulant.  It was discovered that the leaves on the trees had the ability to disinfect wounds. As a result, the beans were used to remedy diabetes and other ailments which may have affected the bladder and kidneys.


The Beans became known as the brown gold in 1502. At this time, Columbus and his crew became the first Europeans to ever come in contact with the cacao beans . The beans were found at the bottom of a canoe which belonged to the aboriginals of New Spain.  The aboriginals used the beans as currency. As of today the beans are not used for currency. They have been dismissed  because they were mistaken for almonds. The value of the beans could not be predicted.

God's Food

Cocoa was given several nicknames.  The most common name being Theobroma which means food of the gods . The word chocolate is derived from the word Xocolatl which has several meanings including black nuts, cacao fruit, and gods food.