Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Cacao, the native name for Theobroma Cacao, and probably other species of this genus of tropical American Sterculiaceae. They are small trees, natives of Mexico, Central America and the north of South America, cultivated also in Brazil, Guiana, Trinidad, and Grenada. T. Cacao has large oblong pointed entire leaves and sessile clusters of pentamerous flowers with rose-coloured calyx and yellowish petals. The fruit is yellow, from 6 to 10 inches long, and from 3 to 5 broad, oblong, blunt, with ten longitudinal ridges externally, and five chambers, containing ten or twenty seeds each, internally. The thick tough rind is almost woody. The seeds are dried, roasted, bruised, and winnowed, so as to remove their testa from the cocoa-nibs or cotyledons. These contain more than 50 per cent. of fat or cocoa-butter, part of which is generally removed in the process of "preparing" cocoa. It is used in making chocolate "creams." Cocoa is also so rich in albuminoids as to form a valuable article of food; contains a gently stimulating alkaloid theobromine, a fragrant essential oil and a red colouring matter. So-called "soluble" cocoas have starch added to them, which swells up in boiling water, but in no way dissolves the cocoa. Sugar and vanilla or other flavouring are added in the preparation of chocolate. These beverages have less stimulating action upon the respiratory and nervous systems than tea or coffee.