By Hadas Kuznits

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new exhibit appealing to chocolate lovers opens tomorrow at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

Jennifer Sontchi, senior director of exhibits and public spaces at the science center on Logan Circle, says  a lot went into their new temporary chocolate exhibit:

“This exhibit actually comes from the Field Museum in Chicago, and they spent many years researching the content.  And, as a matter of fact, this exhibit toured ten years ago and it was so popular so they decided to renovate it and re-release it.”

The exhibit examines the natural history of chocolate, dating back 5,000 years to Meso-America.


(Photo by Hadas Kuznits)

(Photo by Hadas Kuznits)


Sontchi says the story of chocolate revolves around the cacao tree:

“The cacao tree is part of an ecosystem that includes the taller trees above the cacao tree that shelter it and provide the ‘understory,’ which is where the midge lives, which is… it looks like a little fly. And that midge is thought to be the only animal that pollenates the cacao seeds.”

(Photo by Hadas Kuznits)

(Photo by Hadas Kuznits)


Visitors to the exhibit are greeted by a life-sized replica of a cacao tree, standing 10 to 12 feet tall.

What are some of the most striking aspects of the exhibit for Sontchi?

“For me, it was the realization of the source of a treat I take completely and utterly for granted every day.  So, I had no idea what a cocoa bean looked like, or a cacao pod,” she said.

The “Chocolate” exhibit runs through January 24th, 2015, at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Hadas Kuznits