Chocolate: From Bean to Bar

​Review of Chocolate: The Exhibition at Museum of History and Industry by Abby Searight


Chocolate: The Exhibition is a treat for one’s senses. The exhibition takes a ticketholder from bean to bar while chronicling chocolate’s history throughout civilization.

The first sense to be treated is smell. Entering the exhibition, one’s nose is met by the sweet scent distinct to cocoa. Eventually the aroma fades as one becomes accustomed to the sweetness, though a hint remains ever present. Having noted the exhibit’s scent, one adjusts their eyes. The lighting is dim, creating a relaxing sort of mood to offset that sugar buzz one’s bound to experience simply from the site of it all.

Yet, adhering to sensory pleasures seems not the purpose of the exhibition. Rather, it intends to inform. Despite the sweetly scented, darkly lit room, viewers are meant to educate themselves, and material is abound. Divided into six sections — Tropical Rainforest, Ancient Mayan, Aztec, Europe, North America and Europe, and Today — Chocolate: The Exhibition details the delicacy’s origin to its current craze as well as all facts, figures, and tall tales in between. Each section holds pieces specific to its time, be that the goblets of the Mayans or American candy wrappers. Interactive activities and multimedia, too, are utilized throughout.

Most notable is the Aztec section, which focuses on the fact that cocoa was once a form of currency. To think that one once bartered with sweets is fascinating. This section as well as the others was detailed enough to appease attendants hoping to educate themselves while still succinct — a plus for those who’d rather not mosey.

Just outside the exhibition, a wall lends itself to a Seattle shout-out. Local chocolate companies including Theo Chocolate, Dilettante Chocolate Company, Fran’s Chocolate Company, Seattle Chocolate Company, and Intrigue Chocolate are briefly described and mapped. And beyond the wall on the museum’s first floor is a gift shop where the companies’ candies can be purchased.

I would recommend the exhibition for both children and adults, chocolate lovers and non-chocolate lovers alike. It is an opportunity to learn more about the export - its past and its present, its status overseas as well as locally. Chocolate: The Exhibition can be found entertaining no matter one’s age or dessert preference.

Chocolate: The Exhibition
Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI)
June 14 - September 28

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