Chocolate. A sweet treat for the mind.
From kings to kids, rainforests to candy wrappers, experience the global journey of everyone’s favorite sweet treat.
Chocolate hasn’t always been a bar. It hasn’t always been widely available. It hasn’t even always been sweet. Chocolate: The Exhibition tracks the rich history of the cacao bean, from its beginning as a royal — even divine — Mayan drink to its current role as a romantic gesture, guilty pleasure and global commodity. Follow the history of chocolate culture and science from the 10th century rainforest to the modern-day corner store.
Few food items are both so historically and gastronomically (deliciously?) rich. Vivid environments and imagery, over a hundred exhibited objects and the tantalizing scent of chocolate await to tell this treat’s amazing history.
Explore chocolate’s impact on natural history. Stand beneath a life-size cacao tree in a Mesoamerican rainforest. Learn about the tree’s unusual anatomy and the different products that can be drawn from a single cacao bean (what’s the difference between cocoa and cacao anyway?).
Find yourself in an ancient Mayan temple and learn how Mayans built religious and royal ceremonies around a frothy, bitter drink made from ground cacao seeds.
Play the part Aztec tradesperson, bartering precious cacao seeds for goods. Learn the legend of the Aztec god Quetzacoatl, who was thrown out of paradise as punishment for sharing the knowledge of the cacao tree with mortals.
Trace Cortés’s conquest of the Aztecs and chocolate’s new path across the Atlantic to Spain, which kept chocolate a secret for decades. Watch as chocolate is first mixed with sugar, a combination that changed the gastronomic world and taste buds forever.
Get to know the industrial processes that made chocolate everybody’s favorite treat, not just a luxury for the rich and powerful. European silver and porcelain servers, vintage chocolate molds, early advertisements and montages from chocolate factory floors will follow chocolate’s emergence onto the world stage.