Blommer Beans
Photo courtesy of Blommer Chocolate

Cocoa has long been used to flavor sweets, sauces and drinks, but as it turns out, it’s been a cherished ingredient much longer than originally thought — 2,500 years longer, to be exact.

Scientists from Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss. recently found chemical traces of cocoa on a plate fragment found in Yucatan, Mexico, suggesting the Maya used it to season their food in addition to drinking it.

While this is not the first time cocoa residue has been discovered in Yucatan, this sample — provided by Mexico’s National Institute for Anthropology and History —  is the first found on a flat piece of pottery used for serving, unlike the bowls and glasses uncovered previously.

And because the ceramic fragment resembles a plate, researchers also believe the Maya used cocoa in a condiment similar to modern molé — a spiced chocolate sauce served with chicken or beef.

But no matter how the Maya consumed cocoa, it is clear they were definitely on to something.