By Dixon Hayes
ANNISTON, AL (WBRC) - Anniston's Museum of Natural History is serving up its biggest, tastiest exhibit ever: an exhibit devoted to the science and history of chocolate.
"The Chocolate Exhibit," produced by the Field Museum of Chicago, opened Saturday, January 29, in a museum usually known for its fossils, mummies, plants and its collection of birds.
Still, the museum's marketing director, Margie Conner, says the exhibit fits the museum perfectly.
"The plant is called theobroma cacao, and chocolate's made from the seeds of, basically the fruit of this tree," says Conner, about the plant found in Central and South American rain forests.
The exhibit also traces the roots of chocolate to its unlikely beginning: as a bitter, probably bad-tasting drink used by the ancient Mayans for ceremonial purposes. The Aztecs used it, too. Then, European explorers brought the beans back to Europe, where they were refined and turned into the candy and cake filling we know so well now.
The museum exhibit has something for nearly all senses: videos, artifacts and replicas, antique chocolate tins, exhibits of classic magazine advertising and wrappers for such childhood favorites as Milky Way and 3 Musketeers, even smells of both the beans and the chocolate.
Free samples, however, are saved for special occasions, known as "Chocolate Sundays." The first was held on Day 2 of the exhibit, with treats catered by the Classic on Noble restaurant.
The large exhibit actually overflows the exhibit hall and even takes up nearly the entire lobby. The museum closed for all of the week before the exhibit opened--or if you prefer, dessert was served--January 29.
For those who are left with a craving on a non-Chocolate Sunday, the gift shop has chocolates and chocolate fudge, even chocolate lotions and bath salts and a chocolate game.
"The Chocolate Exhibit" will run through May 22. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for children ages 4 through 17 (younger children are admitted free).
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