The chocolate museum in Merida, the Yucatan


The chocolate museum in Merida, the Yucatan


Do you love chocolate? Be careful, it's addictive! But if you’re in Mexico, you’re free to eat as much as you like: it’s a matter of cultural appreciation. There are museums in Merida, Cancun, and Cozumel devoted to this world-renowned food whose origins lie in the Yucatan Peninsula.

The word "cacao" comes from the Olmecs

This Mesoamerican people lived in the area before the Maya. Archeology tells us that ancient tribes venerated cacao beans as gifts from the gods, and used them as a form of currency. However, it was the Maya who created chocolate.


Hieroglyphics can be seen at sites such as Chichen Itza

Relics and wall decoration pay homage to cacao. By mixing it with vanilla and spices, they obtained a bitter drink called xocolatl, which was appreciated as much for its taste as for the magical properties it was said to possess. The Aztecs soon copied the Maya recipe, and it could almost be called the “national” drink of pre-Columbian America.


The Spanish Conquistadors didn’t like the bitterness of xocolatl when they tried it.

However, they took it back to Europe, where it was combined with sugar cane to produce what we know today as chocolate. Its phenomenal success spread to other European countries, and cacao soon became one of the main sources of wealth in the New World, being incorporated into many cakes and desserts. Today, it’s hard to imagine how exotic this food was for European taste buds, but it was a flavor revolution!


These days, the Yucatan produces just 2% of the world’s cacao beans.

But companies like Merida's Ki’Xocolatl, which was founded by two Belgian chocolatiers who left Liège in search of the origins of chocolate, spotlight the region’s heritage. At Ki'Xocolatl, ancient Maya techniques are combined with modern Western methods, and employees are Maya artisans trained in both worlds, making Merida and the Yucatan a world-class chocolate destination—like another Switzerland for chocolate! The factory also houses a chocolate museum where you can learn more about chocolate-making techniques and the food’s fascinating history.


But don’t eat too much and get a stomachache.