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The Most Unusual Cacao Pod I Have Ever Seen

At The Chocolate Experience in Mexico City I was presented what has to be the most unusual cacao pod I have ever seen. This pod was on the stand of CACEP, a co-operative in the Tabasco area of Chiapas and was described to me as "cacao prehispanico." Or, a type of cacao pod that existed before the Spanish arrived in Mesoamerica. The person who showed this to me is the manager of marketing and eco-tourism for CACEP and he explained that the pod came from the Hacienda Jesus Maria (in Tabasco), and is quite common.


The long shoulder and prominent curved nipple are definite criollo characteristics and the ridges and furrows are pronounced on the shoulder but nearly disappear on the bulbous body. It's also quite small (as small as some of the smaller wild pods I saw in Bolivia), and it is very, very, heavy for its size.

Tabasco has a tourism agency that offers support for eco-tourism programs and I will be in touch about putting together a tour that includes the opportunity to see these pods in their natural environment.

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Comment by Dave Elliott on November 13, 2010 at 1:18am
We very much enjoyed a visit to the CACEP factory earlier this year - friendly staff. CACEP markets two types of beans, which they label "convencional" and "tipo criollo". The convencional is a forastero and the "tipo criollo" is some kind of criollo graft. FYI I believe CACEP is a family-owned private enterprise rather than a cooperative, though they do purchase beans from other growers for their chocolate.

We feasted on delicious seafood in nearby Comalcalco - definitely worth the trip if you're in the neighborhood. Be sure to sample the massive hand-made tortillas the town is known for.
Comment by Mark J Sciscenti on February 12, 2010 at 12:26pm
Hi Clay, this pod does look interesting. I was wondering if you were able to obtain a few facts about this type, specifically: was this pod picked at the peak of ripeness? How long after picking did you see this pod? It would have been nice to see the true color. Were you able to see any seeds? From the looks it may be of the T. cacao subform 'pentagonum' but without actual testing one will never know. The area you describe where this specimen came from historically also included other subform criollo varieties, now quite rare as you know but there have been a few recent finds of older types from what I've heard about. Forastero is in the main what is grown throughout that area now.

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