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New Exhibit: Chocolate

Just in time for Halloween, the Natural History museum takes a look at the world’s favorite indulgence, chocolate.


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Bonbons covered in chocolate

Photo by Lindt & Sprüngli, Switzerland

Bonbons Covered in Chocolate
Chocolate is mostly machine-made, not handmade. Converting cacao seeds into chocolate has now evolved into a complex and time- consuming mechanized process that includes several steps.


Get ready to cash in your golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Well, almost. Chocolate, a new exhibit at the San Diego Natural History Museum, will treat you to a stunning visual array of artifacts from the beginnings of cacao seed cultivation to the chocolate products we know and love today. The exhibit features a combination of hands-on learning activities, interactive displays, and expansive panels detailing the history of chocolate and its main ingredient: cacao seeds.

Where would we be without chocolate? Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and other holidays just wouldn’t be the same. This exhibit proves how this little seed has had a big impact on the world’s economy, history, and popular culture.

Cacao seeds come from cacao trees that depend on a mix of dead plants, dead animals, and fungi for nutrients. These trees cannot self-pollinate so they rely on small flies called midges for pollination. Besides fungi, dead things, and flies, there are decidedly less cringe-inducing aspects of chocolate you can learn about too. Vintage advertisements and candy wrappers, novelty chocolate molds, and chocolate-processing technology inventions from the past provide you with a snapshot of our culture’s obsession with chocolate in all of its different forms.

October 12, 2012 to March 10, 2013. Tickets are $17 for adults,  $12 for children, and free for members. sdnhm.org

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