While eating my evening snack I was once again reminded of this mysterious plant. I have seen and heard about it in many places but never actually checked what kind of plant it actually is. And more importantly: what's with the weird name!
Carob is a tree native to Mediterranean and Middle East. It grows edible pods that have many uses and it's also used as a decorative plant. The powder grounded from the dried pods can be used as a substitute for cocoa. It can even be used to make chocolatey treats to dogs as it doesn't contain the chemical dangerous for them. The seeds are commonly used as a food additive (that's how it ended in my snack yoghurt too) as a thickening agent in low fat or gluten free products.
Apart from the bread tree name (actually just st. John's bread in English, the one I used in topic is a direct translation of it's Finnish name Johanneksen leipäpuu) it is also known as a locust tree. The names come from the belief that this plant was the source of the "locusts and honey" eaten by John the Baptist.
Carob is also the source of the unit carat used to weight precious metals and stones. The seeds of the tree were used to weight these things originally in the Middle East. Later the unit was standardized to 0,2 grams. The Roman gold coin solidus weighted 24 seeds of carob. That's why the purity of gold is still also measured in carats where 24 carats equals 100% pure gold.