Spices – cinammon, pepper, cardamon, ginger, etc. etc. – are a very historically significant thing. Their nature – luxurious resources with great local variation – made them ideally suited as a good to be traded over long distances. For thousands of years the carrying of spices back and forth between Europe, Africa, and Asia, i.e. from one end of the mega-continent to the other, was a major component of international trade.
This served as a stimulus to the development of trade routes, and was a major factor in motivating voyages of exploration – such as that which led Europeans to go around the cape of Africa, to discover the Americas, and to circumnavigate the globe.
This expansion of trade and tying together of different parts of the world – the beginnings of the ‘world market’ – was a key component of the rise of capitalism. Similarly, the parts of Europe that, for a long time, were most attuned to capitalistic needs – Renaissance Italy, especially Venice, with their growth in scientific free-thought and financial innovations – held that position partly because they controlled the flow of spices coming into the Mediterranean from the red sea.
So spices – dried or powdered plants added to food in non-nutrititive quantities to affect flavour – played a key role in the rise of capitalism, and more broadly were a key pillar of ‘capitalists’ for most of history, even when they were merely merchants at the periphery of non-capitalist societies.