Journey to Malaysia
Cocoa, the nectar
of the gods and even the cocoa tree's botanical name, 'Theobroma cacao' translated
from the Greek means "food of the gods" has a history rooted in the
mists of time as far back as 1662. In the early days, the native belief that
cocoa tree was of divine origin and resulted in a holy ritual being performed
whenever cocoa trees were planted.
Cocoa has successfully
conquered all countries and continents of the world in just over 500 years since
its first discovery in the ancient civilization of the Mayas and Aztecs in South
America. In South America, the Aztecs considered the beverage a royal drink
served in ceremonial golden goblets. The Mayas of the Yucatán and the
Aztecs of Mexico cultivated cocoa and the Aztec emperor Montezuma is said to
have regularly consumed a preparation called chocolatl, a mix of roasted cocoa
nibs, maize, water and spice.
The cocoa tree
soon began to appear in Spanish colonies some 20 years after it had been brought
back by the early explorers. However, the processing of cocoa beans began in
earnest, but under a veil of secrecy in monasteries. Chocolate was restricted
to nobility and the recipes were kept secret for nearly 100 years. Hernando
Cortez brought back the first cocoa and chocolate drink recipe to the Court
of King of Spain in 1528. Gradually a transformation began. Cane sugar was added.
Newly discovered spices such as vanilla and cinnamon were also used as flavourings.
spread, to France in 1615, the UK in 1650s and in America in 1755. There was
no looking back. Cocoa and chocolate took America and the world by storm. Today
it is the most popular and most relished flavour in the world.
Cocoa was first
introduced to South East Asia in 17th century by the Spanish. The Spanish brought
the cocoa from Latin America to the Philippines in 1670. Then, it was believed
that the cocoa tree was later brought to Indonesia and Sabah in the early 18th
In Malaysia, the
first cocoa planted area was found in Melacca in 1778. Subsequently, the cocoa
planting was started in a plotted area at Serdang Agriculture Station and Silam
Agriculture Research Center, Sabah. The earliest cocoa commercialization started
between 1853 to 1959 where cocoa types Amelonado was first planted at Jerangau,
Terengganu. The planted area was 403 hectarages.
Cocoa trial was
further undertaken at Serdang, Cheras, Kuala Lipis and Temerloh between 1936
to 1940. However, cocoa was only actively planted after world war II. Cocoa
officially came to Quoin Hill, Tawau, Sabah in 1960. From then on, there was
no turning back to cocoa fever.