What do midges, beans, machetes, and chocolate have to do with each other? It all relates to America’s favorite flavor, chocolate. You must know that chocolate comes from a bean; the cacao bean, which is a seed from a pod on the cacao tree, which grows in the rain forest. There’s a teensy bug called a midge, much like those gnatty-things that swarm around your head when you’re gardening. Anyway, this little midge pollinates the cacao tree, which allows for the growth of the pods…(so without that pesky midge, there’d be NO chocolate!) The density of the forest requires the cacao harvest to be done by hand, so folks with machetes cut off the pods, split them open, and spread the seeds out on banana leaves to dry out. Once they’re dried (fermented, really), they are sent to market.
Then…the real magic happens! Manufacturers roast the beans and eventually you have that hot chocolate, that Mounds bar, or however-you-like-your chocolate.
All this and more can be found NOW at the Indiana State Museum in the new Chocolate: The Exhibition. Trace the history of chocolate from the ancient Incas when it was often used as money, to modern day manufacturing. You can even visit the Chocolate Shoppe, where there are 50 different types of chocolate just waiting to be tasted (I’ve done my best to comply). Who knew science and history could be so…tasty?
Filed under: museums