"A tiny fly no bigger than the head of a pin is responsible for the world's supply of chocolate," points out Allen Young, a leading cacao expert. A member of the same family as the "no-see-um" flies that plague us with their bites, this millimeter-long insect is from the family Ceratopogonidae and the genus Forcipomyia--a very tiny animal with a very long name. The species responsible for cacao pollination are endemic to the neotropical rain forests.
After six years or so, the tree produces fruit, colorful pods the size and shape of small footballs. Each tough-skinned pod contains about forty purplish, bitter-tasting cocoa beans, each the size of a lima bean, which are the source of chocolate. The seeds are embedded within delicious, slippery white pulp, which is slightly lemon-flavored and about as dense as the flesh of a pear. The pods take five to six months to ripen, and do so throughout the year. There are usually two major harvests.