A travelling museum exhibit charts the history of chocolate -- once a bitter drink served to Aztec kings and a rare delicacy, and now a favorite treat worldwide. The average American eats 12 pounds of chocolate a year.
The History of Chocolate
UNIDENTIFIED BOY: I ate like 12 pieces of chocolate a day. I liked it so much when I was little.
TRACIE POTTS: There's nothing better than the sweet, smooth taste of chocolate!
Do you like chocolate?
SUNG HAN, Chocolate Lover: Sure!
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Everybody take another deep breath...Ahhhhh!
POTTS: This traveling exhibit at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles is a
BILL WOOD (Curator): The story of chocolate, ah, well it ends here in a place like this, in a chocolate shop. But it really begins in the tropical rain forest.
POTTS: Yes, chocolate literally grows on trees. Well, at least the seeds do. In ancient times chocolate wasn't a candy, it was a drink. Sort of an ancient version of hot chocolate.
So this is sort of a very old version of a king's hot chocolate mug?
WOOD: That's right. That's exactly what it is. And there was a label on there to
say 'this is the king's hot chocolate mug.'
POTTS: The drink was bitter, served in its own special china. Soon, chocolate houses
popped up all over Europe.
Sort of the ancient version of Starbucks?
WOOD: Very much so, very much so.
POTTS: In the Aztec Empire, chocolate seeds or cacao seeds as they're known were
even used for money.
WOOD: Instead of coins, you could go to market with a handful of cacao beans and
POTTS: But it wasn't long before someone realized that with a little effort…what was once a delicacy could become a delicious treat.
WOOD: The first candy bar in 1848 or 1847. By the end of the century, 50 years
later approximately, there are hundreds of candy bars.
POTTS: Today, Americans buy 13 billion dollars worth of chocolate a year.
Now here's an interesting fact: the average American eats about 12 pounds of
chocolate a year. That's about 100 chocolate bars.
From the rainforest to the candy store, the story behind chocolate, almost as
sweet as the treat itself.
Tracie Potts, NBC News, Los Angeles.
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