Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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cocoa technically refers to cocoa powder, although the term “cacao” has been Anglicized to “cocoa” over the years. By the time the Europeans discovered cacao in the New World in the beginning of the sixteenth century, it had been used to produce chocolate in the Americas for over 2,500 years. See chocolate, pre-columbian. Mesoamerican societies referred to the tree or fruit of the tree as cacao, or kakaw, as part of their spoken or written languages. Today, the term “cacao” refers to the cacao tree, pod, or bean.