DEEP IN THE HEART OF BRAZIL
At the mouth of the Amazon River, near what today is the city of Belém, located in north-eastern Brazil, an indigenous tribe faced famine due to a severe drought.
As the tribe suffered, their chief Itaqui grew more and more concerned about how to feed his people.
One day, several tribal chiefs assembled and decided that, from that moment, every new-born should be sacrificed for the tribes' welfare. Because of this decree, many moons had passed without the birth of a single child.
Until one day Iaçã, Itaqui's own daughter, gave birth to a beautiful boy. But the chief was a man of his word and did not hesitate about carrying out the decree in order to save his tribe.
Desperate, Iaçã begged her father to spare her son's life, believing that their lands were already green enough, abundant in wild animals throughout the region to feed everyone. However, Itaqui was adamant in his decision, afraid of angering the gods and suffering their wrath. It was too late.
Overwhelmed by pain, Iaçã ran to a hidden grotto in the forest, kneeling on her knees and begging the gods for a way to convince her father that such atrocity was not the solution for the tribe's adversities. She ended up crying herself to sleep.
Early in the morning, as the sun started rising, she was awakened by the sound of a baby crying. As she came out, she saw her son smiling at the foot of an elegant palm tree. After a brief moment of shock, she ran towards the child and, as she raised her hands to hug him, the baby vanished and she realized that her arms were actually wrapped around the tree. In deep sorrow, Iaçã wept until she lost the will to live.
The next day, the tribe's chief and hunters found her body still embracing the tree. There was an unexpected smile on her face and her big eyes stared fixed at the top of the palm tree. At the spot where Iaçã seemed to be staring, Itaqui noticed that the palm had born a hanging cluster of dark berries as if the tree itself was weeping instead.
He immediately ordered the berries to be collected and, after some examination, a deep, purple juice was extracted from them. It didn't take long until the potential for a satiating, very nutritious food was realized.
Despite his grief, having lost both his daughter and grandson, Itaqui still thanked the gods for such gift and decided to end the ban on childbirth, securing the future of his people with these abundant, special berries.
By reversing the name of his daughter Iaçã, he named the mysterious berries "açaí". For generations, the açaí berry has brought strength and nourishment to the native people of this rainforest region, thanks to the legendary tears of Iaçã.
The Rise to Fame
THE GRACIE FAMILY
By the mid-'90s, legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu founder, Carlos Gracie, likely popularized the açaí bowl (frozen açaí pulp blended with banana) by promoting his so-called Gracie Diet, which sought to maximize the performance of his fighters, in cities like Rio de Janeiro, located in southeast Brazil. The açaí bowl was a centre-piece of the diet.
As time went on, surfers and gym enthusiasts began to partake the açaí bowl trend, mainly because of its many dietary benefits. Around the year 2000, organic açaí pulp first boarded a flight to the USA - where Hawaii and Southern Califórnia had açaí bowl become their 'house speciality', whereas in Europe its popularization began only recently.