Brazil nuts have been eaten by the native people of the region at least since the Upper Paleolithic era, some 11,000 years ago. But the first mention of the Brazil nuts from Western sources goes back to 1569 during a time when Spanish and Portuguese explorers were tramping through South America, fighting, killing, and subjugating native peoples. One of these explorers, a Spanish conquistador named Juan Álvarez Maldonado, was introduced to Brazil nuts while exploring the Madre de Dios river region of Peru and promptly ordered that thousands be gathered for his hungry troops. That was pretty much the best thing that happened to Maldonado and his troops on that trip: their boats overturned navigating a swollen river, a bloody battle ensued with rival Spaniards who were also exploring the area, followed by another battle with natives that wiped out most of the rest of the crew. Maldonado barely made it back to civilization alive.