His son Ferdinand commented that the natives greatly valued the beans, which he termed almonds, "for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen." From time to time they served him [Montezuma] in cups of pure gold a certain drink made from cacao.
It was said that it gave one power over women, but this I never saw.
The Mayan people, by contrast, do leave some surviving writings about cacao which confirm the identification of the drink with the gods.
Scientists have been able to confirm its presence in vessels around the world by evaluating the "chemical footprint" detectable in the microsamples of contents that remain.
gives a derivation from the Yucatec Maya word "chokol" meaning hot, and the Nahuatl "atl" meaning water.
More recently Dakin and Wichman derive it from another Nahuatl term, "chicolatl" from Eastern Nahuatl meaning "beaten drink".
While the beans themselves are bitter due to the alkaloids within them, the sweet pulp may have been the first element consumed by humans.
Evidence suggests that it may have been fermented and served as an alcoholic beverage as early as 1400 BC.
It was consumed for a variety of purposes, as an aphrodisiac or as a treat for men after banquets, and it was also included in the rations of Aztec soldiers.