How Chocolate Was Lost—and May Come Back
If you were asked to name the world’s favorite food, chocolate might be a contender. Every country adores chocolate and it’s the rare inverse economics crop—produced in developing countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Indonesia and consumed in developed ones like Switzerland, Ireland, the United States. Usually wealthy countries send aid to poorer ones. Chocolate works in reverse.
More than 70 percent of today’s chocolate is produced from trees in West Africa. That’s strange considering the cacao tree originated in the Americas—specifically in Ecuador, where people crushed beans for cocoa, the sweet inner bean, as long as 5,300 years ago.
So how did Ecuador lose its chocolatey dominance to West Africa? In short, it was stolen.
When the Spanish colonized central America in the