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Chocolate - An Overview

PHILADELPHIA, September 24, 2014

Chocolate – An Overview
Chocolate: The Exhibition, Oct. 11 – Jan. 24, 2015

Where does chocolate come from?  How is it made?  And how has it sweet-talked its way into our hearts?  Take a walk with us through the highlights Chocolate: The Exhibition, at The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Tropical Rainforest
Enter the lush tropical rainforest and examine a replica of a cacao tree with its seed pods. Learn about the complex ecosystem that supports the healthy growth of the remarkable Theobroma cacao, the tiny midges that pollinate it, and the birds that make homes in its branches.

The Ancient Maya
See how sculpture and carved vessels, cacao seeds in dishes, and chemical residue in pots helped scientists trace the roots of chocolate to the ancient Maya. The Maya were the first to turn the bitter seeds into a spicy drink for use in ceremonies and trade.

The Aztec
Cacao was the key to the vast empire of the Aztec people—as a luxury drink for the elite, an offering to the gods, payment to rulers, and money in the marketplace. An interactive Aztec marketplace shows visitors the purchasing power of a handful of beans. Find out what treasure Cortés discovered in the storerooms of Montezuma.

Chocolate Comes to Europe
The Spanish conquest of the Americas introduced chocolate to Europe. Learn what happened when chocolate first met sugar and what really went on in the elite chocolate houses of Europe. See how the wealthiest consumers satisfied their chocolate cravings. And discover the human toll that was paid: slaves toiling on sugar and cacao plantations to meet the growing European demand for chocolate.

Chocolate Manufacturing
Cacao seeds grow on trees, but chocolate bars have to be made, by hand or by machine. Take a look at the sweet side of the industrial revolution—the steady stream of new inventions and creative advertising that brought chocolate bars to the masses.

Chocolate as a Global Commodity
Who grows cacao? Which country consumes the most chocolate? Explore the relationship between growing, selling and consuming cacao. Trace its ups and downs in the world market and see how cacao is grown today. Witness how it’s harvested, prepared and shipped. Find out what farmers are doing to preserve their crops, their income and the rainforest.

Chocolate means different things to different people. Find out how people cook with it, eat and drink it, and use it to celebrate holidays around the world. Learn about the myths and realities of chocolate’s effect on health.

Chocolate and its national tour were developed by The Field Museum, Chicago. This exhibition was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation. Chocolate is presented by Mars Chocolate North America. 6ABC is the Academy’s media partner.

chocolate sponsors 

About American Heritage Chocolate


In 2003, Mars, Incorporated undertook an extensive global research initiative to uncover the true history of chocolate. A group from Mars led a multi-disciplinary team of more than 115 experts from around the globe who accessed over 200 archives, libraries, museums and private collections to reveal chocolate’s origin and history in the Americas. “CHOCOLATE: History, Culture, and Heritage,” has contributions from 45 authors, including researchers, culinary chefs, food scientists and historians from leading historic institutions and was published in 2009 by Wiley. Out of this research project, the American Heritage Chocolate brand was developed in 2006 by Mars Chocolate North America to help educate consumers about the history of our nation through the engaging story of one of our most beloved foods...chocolate! Fashioned off an ingredient list from 1750, American Heritage Chocolate is an authentic historic chocolate made from ingredients available in the 18th century. The recipe represents a true taste of chocolate the way our ancestors would have enjoyed it. The product line celebrates chocolate’s important role in the lives of Americans during the 18th century. Made with all-natural ingredients and no preservatives, American Heritage Chocolate comes in four unique formats: chocolate sticks, chocolate bites, chocolate baking/grating blocks, and finely grated chocolate drink mix. American Heritage Chocolate is sold exclusively at over 130 fine gift shops at historic sites, museums and historic inns across the USA and Canada. For a complete listing or to purchase online, please visit our website at Learn more about American Heritage Chocolate at, on Twitter @Choc_History and NOW on


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Media Contact

Carolyn Belardo

Director of Public Relations
Phone: 215.299.1043