Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Day of Chocolate Culture, and Why I'm a Bad Mommy, Part I

Alexandra and I decided to take a field trip the other day, so we brought the boys to the Bruce Museum to see their exhibit on the history of chocolate and chocolate in advertising. One room had a recreation of a cacao tree, an exhibit where you could test your nose on various aromas, and even a pretend chocolate shop where kids (or Alexandra, see above) could dress up in aprons and hats and pretend to sell chocolate. The ads from the 1800s were particularly humorous. Here's what they had to say:

  • The special "automatic machinery" that Cadbury used, "obviates the necessity of its being once touched by the human hand." Wow, what a difference from today when we place such high value on "hand-crafted" chocolates!

  • Cadbury Hot Chocolate is "specially rich in flesh-forming and strength sustaining principles." Uh, flesh-forming? Ewww.

  • Also, "It is a gentle stimulant, and sustains against hunger and bodily fatigue." Take that, Power Bar!

Here are some other tidbits from the exhibit:

  • A Spanish proverb: "Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick." Hear, hear! (Or is it Here! Here! I can never remember.)

  • In 1894, big tin vending machines shaped like animals and people were used to allow customers to sample the quality of chocolate from particular shops. The demand for vending machines became so overwhelming that it led to the formation of the Deutsche Automatengesellschaft Stollwerk, or the German vending machine association.

After browsing the rest of the exhibits (including a sheep in formaldehyde, which apparently represents a "glance at the past, a look at the future," or some such drivel ... all I see is a gnarly dead sheep in a glass case, and I was an art major!), we attacked the gift shop. The little old ladies didn't see us coming, I assure you.

Between all the yummy chocolate and really cute kids' stuff, we had a field day. Alexandra bought Wilbur Buds: they're dark and milk chocolate drops, bigger than chocolate chips, squatter than Kisses, and veryyyy yummy.

I bought this little box of The Cocoa Room's Eclectic Dragees. Now, as you know, I'm not one for "fancy" chocolates. It's safe to say that I'd take a plain bar of chocolate over a hoity-toity gold-leafed black pepper and mangosteen truffle any day. But there was something about these that spoke to me. They reminded me of both art nouveau and pebbles in a stream. There are big chocolate-covered almonds that look like they're foil-wrapped, but that's really the sugar shell. And then there are teeny-tiny little teal and purple colored drops that I assumed were just chocolate. Which leads me to explain why I am a Bad Mommy.

We brought our purchases outside and sat at a little table. The boys could sense something was up, so they started getting antsy. Alexandra was prepared and had a fruit snack for Ian. I, on the other hand, thought, "Well, these are just chocolate. I'll give Henri one." So I gave him a little teal drop, which he proceeded to get all over his lips. Then Alexandra and I tried some. "They're like Rice Krispies," she said. "Yeah," I agreed. They were good! It wasn't until I got home and actually dissected one that I realized they were chocolate-covered sunflower seeds! Aaaah! Any mom these days knows that giving your kids nuts or seeds before age 2 is equivalent to Britney Spears driving with her baby on her lap or Michael Jackson dangling his baby over the balcony.

Bad Mommy! Fortunately, he didn't have any sort of reaction. (Except the "I want more and I want it now!" reaction.)

Anyhow, these are not only lovely but really, really yummy. The almonds are crisp and smoky and I surprisingly liked the sunflower seeds. (I've seen chocolate-covered ones before and thought, who would eat those? Well, I guess the answer would be me!)
I went to The Cocoa Room's website to see if I could find out any more about these little beauties, but the website is strangely uninformative. But I'd definitely recommend them as a gift.

1 comment:

Cybele said...

I've always preferred Wilbur Buds to Hershey's Kisses ... both the milk and dark are excellent.