The cocoa nut and the chocolate it produces is a versatile plant and food source: it’s been used as currency, in liquid form as an offering to the gods, and as the food that represents love, dominating Valentine’s Day sales. This October, chocolate has taken on a new role as the subject of a visiting exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum.
Running from October 12, 2012 – March 10, 2013, this display, developed by The Field Museum in Chicago, is a walking history tour of the evolution of chocolate from a bean to its solid state, and from ancient cultures to the present day. At the start of the exhibit, visitors are transported into a cocoa rainforest, a lush environment where a hint of cocoa permeates the air, tempting guests to continue on and devour information about the sweet that they love to consume
Indulge in a little knowledge about chocolate as the exhibit takes you through a history lesson on the Aztecs’ usage of the cocoa seed as a form of money and the Mayans’ thick drink made up of cornmeal, honey, chili peppers, and of course – cocoa. You’ll also discover how cocoa gained relevancy in the modern world as what we now know as chocolate, which began with Hernán Cortés’ yearning for gold – a journey that would lead him to discover the prized Native American food.
Befitting to chocolate’s dark variety, the exhibit also reveals some of the problematic issues with the food: how its demand impacted slavery, its effect on the environment, and the toils of contemporary cocoa farmers. Using powerful statistics, the exhibit demonstrates the pull of chocolate in today’s market, effectually making a case for chocolate’s role as a highly sought-after commodity.
For more information about the exhibit, and to learn about the San Diego Natural History Museum’s mission, please visit their website.
If you can’t make the trip to the museum, don’t worry: we’ve got a local source of chocolate to keep you contented: Wockenfuss Candies. Though we haven’t been around as long as the ancient Aztecs, we know a thing or two about preparing the long-revered cocoa bean, as we’ve been in the business of so doing for nearly 100 years. We’d like to think we’ve earned a spot in the history of chocolate making – come try our candy today and you’ll see why!