Have a cup of cocoa, Maya style

Object of the Month: 12/2013

What is it?:

Chocolate vessel
Chocolate vesselCourtesy SMM
Chocolate vessel


Near Papantla, Veracruz, Mexico

Age: Pre-Columbian
What is it made of?:


Accession #: A80:16:1

What’s better than a hot cup of cocoa on a chilly December day? How about sipping a drink like that every day during the time of the ancient Maya.

This ceramic vessel was used for pouring a chocolate drink. It was discovered on the edge of the Maya world in Veracruz, Mexico.

But the Maya type of cocoa was a little different than the warm, sweet drink we know today. A variety of peppers and chilies were mixed into the drink, giving it some kick. And it's likely that the drinks were poured back and forth between a couple of vessels to create a frothy foam on the top of the beverage.

How do we know this vessel was used for pouring chocolate? Archaeologists have conducted tests on the edges of the vessel and found the remains of chocolate substances.

Share your thoughts about this vessel in the comments space below. Or if you are feeling creative, write your own label for this tasty object!

Here are some more online resources about the Maya, chocolate and the cacao plant that the chocolate is made from:

Cacao on a tree: Pods full of cacao beans grow on a tree in a tropical environment.
Cacao on a tree: Pods full of cacao beans grow on a tree in a tropical environment.Courtesy Luisovalles
• How exactly do archaeologist know chocolate was poured from vessels like this?

• Learn about the climate conditions that make for good cacao growing and why the Maya world was ideal for this.

• Cacao beans were also valuable currency. Read this to learn the estimated values of cacao in trading among Mesoamerican people.

• Cacao and chocolate played a role in Maya religion and mythology. Learn more here.

• See the role that the cacao shell played in the Maya number system.

• Want to try to make your own Maya chocolate drink at home? Try this recipe. WARNING: The author/experimenter did not seem to enjoy the final product.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

mikaela lambert's picture
mikaela lambert says:

i love the cacao tree

posted on Sat, 12/07/2013 - 5:45pm
paulina delmont's picture
paulina delmont says:

cocoa beans are delicious:)

posted on Fri, 01/03/2014 - 5:39pm
jaylee smith's picture
jaylee smith says:

you know hot cocoa powder comes from the cocoa tree:)

posted on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:37pm
andrew 's picture
andrew says:

i didn't know mayans had hot chocolate

posted on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 1:53pm
Johny's picture
Johny says:

love the pot's decorations

posted on Fri, 12/13/2013 - 12:10pm
Giggles's picture
Giggles says:

Spicy hot chocolate is the best! Next time you make hot chocolate, dd some cayene pepper to it! Amazing!

posted on Sat, 12/14/2013 - 5:40pm
meera's picture
meera says:

it looks tasty...

posted on Sun, 12/15/2013 - 4:25pm
nevaeh's picture
nevaeh says:

sweet food

posted on Thu, 12/19/2013 - 10:31am
lucky's picture
lucky says:

it so yum it makes my tommy groan

posted on Tue, 12/17/2013 - 12:23pm
diana's picture
diana says:

it makes me hungry. im very hungry.

posted on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:08pm
madysen 's picture
madysen says:

it makes me real hyper!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 12:37pm
Anonoumus School Group 1111223456789's picture
Anonoumus School Group 1111223456789 says:

hot coco rocks thank you myans btw we dont drink it all spicy like that so ya we came up with a better version but thank you for the fantastic discovery of cocoa beans

ps on of us doesnt like hot coco sorry :( :(

posted on Wed, 12/18/2013 - 3:25pm
lilo.'s picture
lilo. says:

hola, i will try one day... maybe

posted on Thu, 12/19/2013 - 12:12pm
anton's picture
anton says:

makes me want hot chocolate now

posted on Thu, 12/19/2013 - 12:39pm
doc.bobo's picture
doc.bobo says:

cool. beans

posted on Thu, 12/19/2013 - 2:23pm
Austin Cupples's picture
Austin Cupples says:

Makees Me VEEERy Hungry

posted on Mon, 12/23/2013 - 2:23pm
SupercalifragilisicSerena's picture
SupercalifragilisicSerena says:

Whipped hot cholcolate is the greatest! Look up a recipe on kandeej.com

posted on Mon, 12/23/2013 - 4:50pm
zion's picture
zion says:

it looks so good add extra spice!

posted on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 5:54pm
yo face's picture
yo face says:

i want one of these in my house!

posted on Thu, 12/26/2013 - 2:28pm
blake richard howard robles's picture
blake richard howard robles says:

this is awsome but i dont have a cocoa tree in my back yard if you give me one i will pass it on

posted on Thu, 12/26/2013 - 7:01pm
char's picture
char says:

it makes me smile because chocolate is universal

posted on Thu, 12/26/2013 - 7:03pm
Nad Fig's picture
Nad Fig says:

you coud make some good chocolate out of that tree. i would definatly eat that chocolate.

posted on Fri, 12/27/2013 - 5:43pm
mariah's picture
mariah says:

i want one in my house so i can drink it cause it it so good
;) :) :D :p

posted on Sat, 12/28/2013 - 3:44pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:


posted on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 1:17pm
kate says's picture
kate says says:

i want to try the coco

posted on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 2:33pm
Mika's picture
Mika says:

Hot chocolate is the best during the cold Minnesota winters like this one! It's -17 outside!

posted on Sun, 12/29/2013 - 7:20pm
easton & oliver lee's picture
easton & oliver lee says:

awsum! i got my dad a maple bacon chocalte bar! for christmas

posted on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 12:40pm
june's picture
june says:

pouring the chocolate would be really messy

posted on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 3:54pm
Hannah Sween's picture
Hannah Sween says:

This article was very interesting, didn't knowuch aa delicious treat has been around for so long!

posted on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 4:09pm
Gretchen's picture
Gretchen says:

Did you know that the Cacoa Bean pods are considered a fruit.

posted on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 4:16pm
king of awsome's picture
king of awsome says:

chocolate trees? i can't wait to to get my hands on 1 of those!! chocolate!!!!! so dang awesome!!! (oh, yum.) CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

posted on Tue, 12/31/2013 - 3:00pm
king of awesome's picture
king of awesome says:

hot chocolate: awesome. peppers in hot chocolate: disgusting. (you drink it. it tastes good. add peppers :barf)

posted on Tue, 12/31/2013 - 3:11pm
Caroline R     's picture
Caroline R says:

I ould have never guessed that choloate was this big

posted on Tue, 12/31/2013 - 5:07pm
Savannah's picture
Savannah says:

You should consider offering samples.

posted on Wed, 01/01/2014 - 3:31pm
andrew's picture
andrew says:

I never knew people in maya had hot choclate

posted on Wed, 01/01/2014 - 4:17pm
hi hi hi hi hi's picture
hi hi hi hi hi says:

i wonder how they created (found out how to make it)
because it is so yummy and probly e found it or know how to make it becaue of them mmmmmm hot coco

posted on Thu, 01/02/2014 - 6:28pm

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