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Childhood Memories with the Koko Samoa Tree

Jade Chocolates is proud to participate in the internship program, which is a joint venture of SFMade and Juma Ventures to create Youthmade. Youthmade gives low income youths the opportunity for a paid six-week experience to work with a San Francisco manufacturer. This time around, we chose Theresa to join the Jade Chocolates’ team. Here she is in the foreground, with me, my daughter and sister in the background.

Theresa, our 2014 intern

One of our earliest conversations we had with her was about Theresa’s first encounter with the cacao tree. We decided to capture it in a blog interview, so here it goes.

Where did you grow up in Samoa? Pago Pago. It’s a village and also the capital of American Samoa.

Cacao trees in Samoa

I asked you if you knew if Theobroma cacao, the tree that grows chocolate, grew in Samoa and you said you didn’t know. So I showed you the dried up fruit from the cacao tree and that brought back memories. I recognized the dried up fruit because it’s everywhere on my grandfather’s property in Samoa. My grandfather’s property is huge and has a lot of trees with those fruit that you showed me, and also guava, mango, lemon, banana, tons of taro, avocado and other fruit trees that I don’t know the name in English. There’s also a lot of flowers. I had to ask my mom what the name of the tree is, it’s called Koko Samoa, which is also the name of a drink.

So tell us about your experience with Koko Samoa tree. When I was a kid, me and my cousins and brothers would play house in the back of the property. From about kindergarten to 4th grade, we’d play back there after feeding the pigs.

How did you incorporate the Koko Samoa tree into playing house? We’d use the pods as our food and twist the fruit off of the tree, crack it open and pick the fruit segments and throw away the seed onto the forest floor.

Fresh beans and fruit of the cacao tree

Throw away the seeds? That’s what people make chocolate with! Oh, we didn’t know. There was so many of the pods and they’d just fall off the tree. Also, we’d take two of those pods and wrap it up in a pillow case and make a fake baby out of it. Yeah, I would always be the mom and hold the baby. And sometimes we’d use them as pillows or even use them as footballs and threw them at each other. They’re very useful to play with as a kid.

So how did the fruit taste? It tasted real real good! I haven’t thought about those trees and playing in the backyard in years. It brings back happy memories.


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