Chocolate at Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Chocolate !   Chocolate!   We are going to Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science to learn about chocolate.   I, Zeb the Duck am ready.   Let’s go mom.   We enter the exhibit, which is included with a general admission ticket or our museum membership card.

Chocolate Exhibit

Chocolate Exhibit

Chocolate comes from a tree.   The seedpods of the cacao tree.

Cacao seedpod

Cacao seedpod

Those are pretty big seedpods.

Cacao Seedpod

Cacao Seedpod

Chocolate comes from the 30-50 seeds in each pod.   One pods provides enough chocolate for about 7 milk chocolate bars.   Animals eat the pulp while the tough husk protects the seeds.   Animals help create new cacao trees.   They eat the sweeter pulp, while throwing the seeds on the ground.   Many seeds will create new trees.   The Mayans loved the chocolate and often grew cacao trees near their homes.   It was easy to go in their yards to get chocolate seeds.   The Mayans enjoyed chocolate as a frothy drink.

Frothy chocolate drink

Frothy chocolate drink

The cacao seeds were fermented, dried and roasted.   These seeds were then crushed into paste and mixed with water.    Other ingredients such as cornmeal, honey, and chili peppers were added.   The beverage was then poured back and forth between two cups to make the beverage frothy.    Enjoyed by rich and poor, chocolate was a particular favorite of Maya Kings and priests.

Cacao seeds

Cacao seeds

Chocolate was widely traded and was used as money by Aztecs.   In 1606, this was the World of Chocolate.

World of Chocolate 1606

World of Chocolate 1606

Chocolate was introduced to Europe where sugar was added to the beverage.

Sugar added to chocolate

Sugar added to chocolate

Europeans also invented the chocolate stirrer, to more easily create froth on top of the beverage.

Chocolate stirrers

Chocolate stirrers

Having and serving chocolate soon became a status symbol for the wealthy, requiring special serving cups and utensils.

New chocolate serving dishes

New chocolate serving dishes

In 1847 the first chocolate bar was made.

Chocolate bar

Chocolate bar

The chocolate bar led to a new chocolate item–molded chocolate.

Chocolate molds

Chocolate molds

Later, in 1875, chocolate maker Daniel Peter teamed with Henri Nestle to produce milk chocolate.   Soon chocolate symbolized romance.

Chocolate for romance

Chocolate for romance

Today chocolate is a global commodity, with much coming from Africa.

Chococlate is global commodity

Chococlate is global commodity

Near the exit, and entrance, to this exhibit we enjoyed the Chocolate Shop.

Chocolate Shop

Chocolate Shop

Enstrom’s Candies  from Colorado is a sponsor of this exhibit.   We loved this case.

I can only have one???

I can only have one???

Mom said I had to pick just one.   Don’t wait too long to visit Chocolate at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.   The exhibit is here only until May 8, 2016.

Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed Exhibit

Sunday I, Zeb the Duck and Soapy Smith Duck visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

We can learn about the  Maya culture.

We can learn about the Maya culture.

Sunday was the last day for the exhibit Maya:  Hidden Worlds Revealed, and our moms took us to see the exhibit. It was wonderful.

We liked this stela dedicated to the Quirigua’s most important king, K’ah’ Tiliw Chan Yo’at meaning, “Fire burning Celestial Lightning God.

Stela for most important Quirigua king

Stela for most important Quirigua king

By holding a jaguar headed throne made at the dawn of the universe, he aligns himself with the creative powers of the Maize God.  All the artifacts had signs explaining what we were seeing.  Quirigua is a Mayan site in southeast Guatemala.

This is a Mayan altar.

Mayan altar.  Used for special occasions

Mayan altar. Used for special occasions

The altars commemorated important occasions and served as the settings for elaborate sacrifices, including human offerings, to the gods.

Another side of altar.  Human sacrifices?  Not duck sacrifices!

Another side of altar. Human sacrifices? Not duck sacrifices!

Throughout the exhibit, we watched short videos.  They were very interesting.

This artifact was displayed in a case.

Maya King

Maya King

The accompanying sign explains the importance of this statue.  Copan ruins are in western Honduras near the Guatemala border.

About king

About king from Copan

Did you know that the Mayan people invented the bouncing rubber ball?  They did. The Spaniards were so impressed with the bouncing ball and the games played that they took a ball team to Spain to perform for Spanish royalty.  The ball was made with liquid from the rubber tree.

Collecting latex from rubber tree

Collecting latex from rubber tree

To make a bouncing rubber ball, the Maya cooked latex from the rubber trees with juice from the morning glory vine.   Experts shaped the elastic mixture into spheres or pulled it into strips that they wound into balls.

This rubber ball is very heavy.  It weighs 8 pounds.

8 pound rubber ball

8 pound rubber ball

We also saw clothing, cooking utensils, knife blades, tombs and jewelry.  The Mayan exhibit has left Denver now and is going to Boston.  If this exhibit comes to your area, you would like to see it.  This was on the front of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

Promo for Maya exhibit

Promo for Maya exhibit

Please go to any exhibit that comes to your town.  We see many of them and they are all very interesting.  You will enjoy visiting these exhibits.

Museum exhibits are wonderful

Museum exhibits are wonderful