Ever wonder where chocolate comes from? The cacao (kuh-KOW) tree! Cacao trees are grown in the shade of the rainforest, or sometimes on plantations, in Africa and Central America. A cacao tree must be at least five years old before it flowers. Small insects called midges pollinate the flowers so the fruit can grow. The football-shaped fruits, or cacao pods, grow along the tree trunk and branches and turn bright colors when ripe. Inside are the cacao seeds-the source of chocolate. Monkeys, bats, and squirrels eat the sweet pulp surrounding the seeds, which are then spit out as the animals travel through the rainforest. The Mayans first discovered chocolate about 1,500 years ago. Chocolate was enjoyed as a drink before it was made into a solid form to eat. The average American eats about 10 pounds of chocolate a year!