Chocolate originated in the Western Hemisphere and is native to Central and South America. History credits the ancient Olmecs of what is now southern Mexico as the first civilization to harvest the bitter fruit of the cacao tree and figure out how to consume them. Scholars believe that the Olmecs drank the bitter product of dried and roasted cacao beans and/or pods in religious ceremonies. However, the Olmecs left no written records, so knowledge of their use of cocoa is largely hypothetical. Academics agree that the Olmecs passed on that knowledge to the Mayans, who revered it and did leave written records.