Chocolate: The Exhibition
The Chocolate Exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
May 22, 2016
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From February 12th to May 8th, one may have to visit the dentist for cavities because the Chocolate Exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science will leave everyone with a sweet tooth and hungry for more. This exhibit has the audience travel through time and see how chocolate is made, used, and advertised.
When entering the exhibit, the first thing visitors see a tropical rainforest. There is a large replica of a cocoa tree filled with leaves and huge cocoa beans. The replica is then surrounded by walls of leaves and interactive games, informing the audience of the types of animals and plants that use the cocoa bean.
Then participators is taken to an ancient Mayan temple, where the Mayan citizens grew cocoa and used tools, such as pots and vessels, to invent a bitter drink. They gathered cocoa seeds from rainforest trees so they could plant the crop in household gardens. That way the Mayans didn’t have to go far to gather the main ingredient for making a drink of hot chocolate.
Later, the audience steps into the 1400s, where the use of cocoa had spread throughout Mesoamerica. To the Aztec people, cocoa was key to the vast trade empire, offering the luxury drink, the hot chocolate, as money to the gods and rulers. Chocolate was a source of luxury to the Aztecs; it was used for food and medicinal purposes.
Next, one witnesses how the Spanish introduced cocoa to Europe, leading to the idea of adding sugar to it. This unique idea spread throughout Europe as a drink of the wealthy class. At first, the Spaniards were trying to keep the chocolate to themselves, the reason being unknown. Eventually, English pirates and Italian travelers all caught on to the deliciously sweet new drink.
Finally, the exhibit reaches North America during the Industrial Revolution. It was here where mass production made chocolate more affordable and widely-available outside the homes of the wealthy. A long line of new inventions and advertisements helped sculpt the future of chocolate and let the invention of chocolate bars take over the world by storm. A display case shows all sorts of boxed chocolate and when one stands close, the smell of fresh cream and sugar takes over the entire room.
At the end of the exhibit, there is a little chocolate café, filled with loads of customers tending to their sweet tooth. The cafe has everything from chocolate fondue to steamed coffee and hot chocolate. The desserts are served in a plate made out of the cocoa bean shell covering. It’s definitely a “sweet” experience when one walks through the history of everyone’s favorite treat.