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Utah, home to the oldest chocolate in the U.S.

[image] Utah, home to the oldest chocolate in the U.S.
Woman holding cacao pod. Photo: Bobby Neptune/USAID / Flickr
 

By Michael Mozdy

 
Many of us enjoy the excellent chocolate from Utah producers like Amano, Ritual, Solstice, Crio Bru, Millcreek Cacao Roasters, Chocolate Conspiracy, Mezzo, Hatch's, Coleman and Davis, and more. If that sounds like a long list, it is. And it's growing. Retail outlets like Caputos Market, Harmons, and Liberty Heights Fresh are bringing new and interesting chocolates to consumers across the state. The chocolate scene in Utah is quickly becoming one of the finest in the nation, but our state's history with chocolate reaches much further back in time.
 
In fact, the oldest yet discovered evidence of chocolate use in the U.S. comes from a tiny Ancestral Puebloan village in Southeastern Utah. Ceramic bowls and other vessels dating back to 780 A.D. have tested positive for cacao residues - this is a full 200 years before a famous cache of ceremonial vessels used for cacao drink in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
 
But how – back in 780 A.D. – did chocolate find its way 1,500 miles north of where it grows? The answer has turned archaeologists' assumptions on their heads. It's also painted a fascinating picture of cultural exchange stretching thousands of miles through Central and North America.
 

Read The Utah Chocolate Story to uncover a tale that made possible the great bounty of today.

 


© NHMU. One of the Abajo red-on-orange bowls from Southeastern Utah that tested positive for cacao residue.

 

Michael Mozdy is a Digital Science Writer for The Natural History Museum of Utah, a part of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Our mission is to illuminate the natural world and the place of humans within it. In addition to housing outstanding exhibits for the public, NHMU is a research museum. Learn more.

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