Satisfying as a snack, a topping, or in sauces and butter, the cashew is beloved all around the world for its versatility and its rich flavor.Many people eat cashews on a regular basis without understanding their origins. The nut may seem raw and natural when sold as a snack, but in its freshly-picked form, it’s actually toxic. It cannot be safely consumed until it has been roasted.Even after necessary heat treatment, the cashew’s exterior must be removed to access the tasty product inside. This labor-intensive process accounts not only for the cashew’s high price, but also for its prized status even among similar nuts.Cashews are native to Central and South America, as well as several Caribbean Islands. In these places, they have been enjoyed for thousands of years.Europeans encountered the nut during the late 1500s. After that, they quickly spread to India and parts of Africa. They did not become popular in the United States until the General Food Corporation began shipping them in bulk during the 1920s. Today, however, Americans are among the world’s most dedicated cashew consumers.