The European appropriation of chocolate following the “discovery” of the Americas in the 15th and 16th centuries was the last of a long series of transfers of cacao, albeit the one with the most dramatic global economic and cultural consequences. Cacao is a tropical forest understory tree that produces large pods containing seeds embedded with a whitish pulp. The pulp is typically consumed without processing as a source of refreshing liquid, and it can also be made into a fermented drink; the seeds, suitably processed, are the basis for chocolate. Archaeological evidence and Early Colonial period documents provide a wealth of detailed information on the cacao growing, the practices involved in its processing and preparation, and the social circumstances in which it was served during the last centuries of the pre-Columbian era, especially in the Aztec world. Cacao drinks, including fermented chicha, were made from the pulp, but chocolate drinks made from the seeds were far more important.