WTF Fun Fact 13753 – Mayans Used Chocolate as Currency

The Mayans had an intriguing and unique use for chocolate. They didn’t just drink it; they used it as money. Yes, you read that right—chocolate was currency. The Maya civilization, which thrived in Mesoamerica, innovatively integrated chocolate into their economy. Let’s dive into how this delicious system worked.

Chocolate in the Mayan Economy

The Mayans were among the first to cultivate cacao trees. They valued cacao beans highly. These beans were not just food; they were wealth. Cacao beans became a standardized form of currency. People used them to buy goods and pay for services. Archaeological evidence shows that Mayans traded cacao beans for items like food, clothes, and tools.

Imagine going to the market and buying groceries with chocolate beans. This was everyday life for the Mayans. The beans were lightweight, portable, and valuable. This made them an ideal currency for trade and commerce.

The Value of Cacao Beans to the Mayans

Cacao beans had a set value. A single bean could buy a tamale, a small meal. Ten beans could get you a rabbit. The Mayans even paid taxes with cacao beans. This system worked because cacao trees thrived in the region. The beans were always in supply but still valuable enough to function as money.

Not everyone had access to cacao trees, though. This made cacao beans even more precious. The beans became a symbol of wealth and power. Elite Mayans often consumed chocolate drinks as a luxury. This further elevated the status of cacao beans in their society.

The Cultural Significance of Chocolate

Chocolate had deep cultural significance for the Mayans. They believed cacao had divine properties. Mayan mythology stated that cacao was a gift from the gods. Consuming it was a spiritual act. Chocolate drinks were part of religious rituals and ceremonies. Priests and nobles drank it during sacred events.

This cultural importance added another layer to cacao’s value. It wasn’t just a commodity; it was sacred. The spiritual aspect of cacao enhanced its worth as currency. People revered it not just for its taste but for its connection to the divine.

How Cacao Beans Became Money

The transition from food to currency was practical. The beans were small, durable, and easy to count. They didn’t spoil quickly, making them reliable for long-term storage. The Mayans stored cacao beans in large quantities, ensuring they had a stable currency.

Markets and trade centers used cacao beans as the standard for transactions. This consistency helped the economy run smoothly. It wasn’t just local trade; cacao beans facilitated regional commerce too. The beans crossed borders, making them a widespread form of money.

The End of Cacao Currency

The use of cacao as currency faded with the arrival of the Spanish. The Spanish conquest disrupted Mayan society and economy. They introduced new forms of currency, such as coins and paper money. However, cacao beans remained valuable for a while. The Spanish even adopted chocolate drinks from the Mayans, spreading its popularity in Europe.

The decline of cacao currency marked the end of an era. Yet, the legacy of chocolate lives on. Today, we enjoy chocolate in various forms. Few people know its rich history as money. The Mayans’ innovative use of cacao beans showcases their ingenuity and cultural depth.

The Legacy of the Mayans & Chocolate

Cacao remains a significant crop in regions once inhabited by the Mayans. Modern-day countries like Mexico and Guatemala continue to grow cacao. The cultural and economic impact of cacao endures. Farmers today still value the beans, though for different reasons.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “The Maya civilization used chocolate as money” — Science

WTF Fun Fact 13577 – Man Wins Lottery 20 Times

You might marvel at the luck of the gentleman behind those “man wins lottery 20 times” headlines. But it’s a little trickier than it sounds.

A Leap of Faith on Lucky Numbers

Fekru Hirpo’s choice of numbers, 2-5-2-7, wasn’t a common strategy. Usually, the top prize for the Pick 4 game in Virginia is $5,000. However, in a unique twist of events, Hirpo didn’t simply play his numbers on a single ticket. He purchased 20 identical lottery tickets, all bearing the same four numbers. By doing so, he exponentially increased his chances of multiplying his potential jackpot.

When the draw took place on April 5, Hirpo’s gamble paid off handsomely. The seemingly innocuous numbers were declared the winners, turning what would have been a $5,000 win on a single ticket to an impressive haul of $100,000 for Hirpo. But what made him adopt this unprecedented strategy?

According to a news release, Hirpo himself confessed to lottery officials that he doesn’t usually buy multiple tickets with the same numbers. This time, however, intuition nudged him in that direction. “Something just told him to do it,” the release stated.

A Glimpse at the Odds

For those wondering about the odds, the Virginia Lottery sheds some light. The chances of Hirpo’s specific number combination emerging victorious stood at a staggering one in 10,000. So, despite the long odds, Hirpo’s trust in his numbers and the unique strategy of buying 20 identical tickets was nothing short of a masterstroke.

He purchased his tickets from a Four Mile Run Shell in Arlington, which will likely now gain some attention from other lottery hopefuls.

Fekru Hirpo isn’t the first individual to harness the power of repeating numbers in a lottery game. Not too long ago, a woman from Boca Raton, Florida, employed a similar strategy. She decided to play the same numbers on two Mega Millions tickets. As luck would have it, both her tickets matched all five white balls, resulting in a win. While she didn’t get the Mega Ball, her dual wins netted her a whopping total of $4 million.

The Future with His Fortune as Man Wins Lottery 20 Times

As for Hirpo’s plans for his newfound wealth? He remains tight-lipped. He’s indicated no immediate plans for his winnings. Whether he decides to invest, indulge in a luxury, or maybe just buy more lottery tickets, one thing is clear: his faith in his numbers and his audacious strategy will be talked about for a long time.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Virginia man wins $100,000 after playing same numbers on 20 lottery tickets” — FOX 5 San Diego

WTF Fun Fact 13008 – Financial Stress Lowers IQ

Fun Fact: “A Harvard study found that our IQs can drop by 13 points when we are under financial stress. This is in part due to the amount of brain power we use to think about any financial burdens we carry, causing distraction.”
Are you surprised to hear that financial stress lowers IQ?

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According to Canada’s CBC News (cited below), “People struggling to pay their bills tend to temporarily lose the equivalent of 13 IQ points, scientists found when they gave intelligence tests to shoppers at a New Jersey mall and farmers in India. The idea is that the financial stress of trying to make ends meet monopolizes thinking, making other calculations slower and more difficult, sort of like the effects of going without sleep for a night.”

Financial stress and IQ

We know IQ tests aren’t reliable indicators of innate intelligence, but they can be used to measure changes in a person’s cognitive capacity under different conditions. In other words, we don’t have to compare a person’s scores to anyone else’s, we can compare their specific scores without making judgments about their overall intelligence.

CBC described the study:

“The scientists looked at the effects of finances on the brain both in the lab and in the field. In controlled lab-like conditions, they had about 400 shoppers at Quaker Bridge Mall in central New Jersey consider certain financial scenarios and tested their brain power. Then they looked at real life in the fields of India, where farmers only get paid once a year. Before the harvest, they take out loans and pawn goods. After they sell their harvest, they are flush with cash.

[Harvard researcher Sendhil] Mullainathan and colleagues tested the same 464 farmers before and after the harvest and their IQ scores improved by 25 per cent when their wallets fattened.”

What the study doesn’t mean

The study does not mean that rich people are smarter than people who are having temporary or long-term financial difficulties. It only means they have more cognitive resources to “spend.” They can think more clearly and concentrate better on other tasks since they’re not worried about money.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Financial stress can induce drop in IQ” — CBC News

WTF Fun Fact 12425 – Dolly Parton’s Graduation Gift

In 1991, actress and country music legend Dolly Parton and The Dollywood Foundation decided to address the high school dropout rate in her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee.

According to her website: “In the early 1990s, there was a dropout problem in Sevier County schools. Over 30% of all students never graduated a decision which not only crippled their own lives but made it increasingly difficult for Sevier County to prosper.”

Research from The Dollywood Foundation suggested that many students’ decisions about whether to graduate were rooted in their experiences in seventh and eighth grades. So it made sense to target these students for special encouragement. Parton herself suggested a monetary award.

The Buddy Program, as it came to be called, was announced to students that same year.

Her website explains: “In 1991, seventh and eighth-grade students were invited to a special assembly in the newly built Dolly Parton Celebrity Theatre at Dollywood…Dolly told the students that day she wanted each of them to choose a Buddy, and if they didn’t have a Buddy, she would find one for them. She went on to make a very special announcement: she offered to personally give $500 to each and every student in the seventh and eighth grades if they graduated from high school. However, there was one additional requirement: each student’s Buddy must graduate as well, and they had to sign a contract to pledge to do everything they could to make sure both graduated.”

The reward ensured that students would be both encouraged to graduate and stay accountable to one another in order to receive the money. And it worked!

The dropout rate went from 30% to 6%. – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “Dolly launches ‘The Buddy Program’ in Sevier County, Tenn., to tackle local dropout rates” — DollyParton.com