Throughout history, chocolate has long been a favorite luxury item for people around the globe, including Mexico. Starting with the ancient Mayans, chocolate was seen to these people as a gift from the gods. Mayans understood how valuable chocolate was to them and realized its potential to the outside world. After the Spanish Conquistadors clashed with native people and extracted most of the land’s gold, Mayans used cacao beans as a form of currency. This lasted until the 1840’s when trade was replaced with the advent of cacao farming. Today, Tabasco is home to many cacao plantations and chocolate refineries.
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Thanks to investigatory research, dark chocolate has been proven to be rich in antioxidants. News of the research has allowed Tabasco to see a rise in cacao demands and has created a secondary income-producing stream; tourism. For visitors in the area, asking for directions to a chocolate plantation is as easy as letting your nose be your guide. The aroma of the cacao refineries leads visitors to one of Tabasco’s biggest combination cacao plantation/chocolate factory, Finea Cholula.
When touring a cacao plantation, visitors will be taken to a shady area with year-round moderate temperatures. Since these are optimal conditions for cacao growing, the plants produce pods regularly. However, if looking to witness cacao harvesting in action, try to book a tour during the peak harvest times; late spring and early winter. An unfortunate truth to being so busy, many plantations may actually cancel tours during this time if there is a large crop. Plan a cacao plantation tour well in advance and call the location directly regarding its operating seasons. Off-site chocolate factories will most likely be open year-round and experience peak production three months before each major holiday. Best of all, most offer free samples and allow visitors to purchase freshly made chocolates.