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Whether Hersey’s or something finer, a love affair with chocolate

February 14th, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

By Rebecca Holliday

LOGAN—Chocolate and Valentine’s Day have been celebrated around the world for centuries. In honor of this month’s love-charged and confection-filled holiday, Utah State’s Museum of Anthropology has focused on the history of chocolate.

During a recent open house, students, faculty and local residents gathered on the second floor of Old Main to enjoy chocolate treats and learn about the history of chocolate around the world.

Museum curator Elizabeth Sutton says the goal of regular Saturday programs is to educate, but they also want people to come in and have fun. “We want them to know at least one thing they didn’t know when they walked in,” she said.

In the hot chocolate room, museum-goers could try different kinds of hot chocolate, including Mexi-chocolate, which features an added kick from chili powder, and flavor shots.

Colby Page, a visitor who attended last year’s history of chocolate program, tried hazelnut hot chocolate. “I think it was a good choice,” said Page.

Joelle Young helped in the hot chocolate room, giving a short lecture on the history of chocolate. Young explained that hot chocolate was the first kind of chocolate and discussed additives used by different cultures to sweeten cocoa, which is naturally very bitter.

For some, chocolate may be a special treat for Valentine’s Day, but for others it is an everyday indulgence.

“If I were allergic to chocolate, I’d eat it anyway,” said broadcast journalism Professor Brian Champagne, a chocolate connoisseur.

Champagne shies away from pedestrian chocolate such as the classic Hershey’s. His favorite is Amano chocolate, which is made in Orem and runs about $7 per bar. Paying so much for a bar of chocolate may seem like a stretch, but Champagne says it’s worth it to him. Amano chocolate is made by hand-selecting cacao beans from different countries, as opposed to just melting pre-made chocolate into smaller bars like some companies do.

“This is artisan chocolate made by some dude,” Champagne said. “Godiva is corporate.”

For those with less refined tastes who don’t mind a little Hershey’s, the Anthropology Museum also featured a chocolate carving station, where chocoholics could carve a chunk of Hershey’s using toothpicks.

Michelle Jensen watched and waited while her kids happily carved designs into the squares. “I thought it would be a fun way to get out of the house,” she said Saturday. Jensen said she wasn’t picky, and enjoys any kind of chocolate.

For those who need an excuse like Valentine’s Day to eat chocolate, or for those who indulge on a daily basis, February is the time to celebrate the history of chocolate. Those attending the Museum of Anthropology’s History of Chocolate program left not only with a satisfied sweet tooth, but a better understanding of the versatile treat.

TP

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