On this say in 1550, Chocolate was introduced in Europe, and the Mexican drink creates a passion that endures after nearly half a millennium. Europe came late to the joys of chocolate. Native to Mexico, Central and South America, cacao cultivation dates to at least 1250 B.C., according to archaeologists. Mayans grew cacao trees in their backyards and used the seeds to brew ceremonial drinks. In the fifth century, Aztecs consumed xocoatl (bitter water) flavored with vanilla and chili pepper. The highly valued bean served as currency in Aztec society. One turkey, for example, cost 100 cacao beans. As far back as 1504, Christopher Columbus may have brought cacao beans to Spain from his fourth and final voyage to the Americas.