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Edible Loot

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In the economy of the ancient Mayans, cacao was considered so valuable that scam artists would take the pods, fill them with mud, and attempt to pass them off as the real thing. This would be the pre-Columbian equivalent of passing off parsley as pot.

In this Archaeology interview, Hershey corporation scientist W. Jeffrey Hurst describes his coordination with archaeologists to unlock the secrets of Mayan chocolate. They preferred it savory; it was the European conquerors who decided it was palatable only when sweetened.

Fantasy games prefer to hand out monetary loot we still imagine as valuable today. However, for most of human history, food has been a top item on any violent looter’s list of desirables. Spices were valuable enough to kill for on a scale that fueled the ages of exploration and colonization.

Next time you need to add flavor (pun not originally intended) to a heap of dungeon loot, fill it out with spices, cacao, or equivalent imaginary foodstuffs.

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