THE Aztec civilisation prized the cocoa bean so highly that it was a form of currency.
The beans were the natives’ coins and there were even “scams” during the pre-Columbian era as forgers would fill empty cocoa shells with earth and trade them for fruits, turkey eggs and rabbits.
Cocoa was precious then; today we make chocolates out of it and savour it as treats.
Belgians are the world’s largest chocolate consumers, with each person consuming about 5.8kg of chocolates yearly.
Interesting facts such as these are among the attractions at the Chocolate Museum@Kota Damansara.
Launched in 2014, the museum boasts not only eye-catching chocolate sculptures and exhibits but also offers an engaging narration of the history and evolution of chocolates.
The museum is divided into two sections.
Section 1.0 is free to the public while Section 2.0 will be open to the public for a minimal entrance free by the month’s end.
The museum is connected to the Fidani’s chocolate factory operated by DR Group Holdings Sdn Bhd as the company’s corporate social responsibility arm.
Business development officer Muhamad Ridzwan Md Ali said the first section of the museum covered these topics: Journey of Chocolate, Fathers of Chocolate, Health and Benefits of Chocolate, Chocolates Industry, Chocolate Kitchen and Chocolate Galleria, and a retail store.
“Journey of Chocolate traces the origins of chocolates, starting from 1500 BC with the Aztec Empire until the present day.
“Fathers of Chocolate highlights the prominent Swiss pioneers in the development and manufacturing of chocolates. In the health benefits section, various myths about chocolates are unravelled,” he said.
Visitors also get to witness live demonstrations conducted on a regular basis by in-house chocolate chefs.
The second part of the museum has more visuals for visitors to enjoy.
A must-see would be the Petronas Twin Towers chocolate sculpture undertaken by the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry in collaboration with the Malaysian Cocoa Board for Malaysia International Commodity Conference and Showcase 2013.
The tower made of a mixture of 525kg of dark chocolate by chef Amer Hamzah, is displayed at the museum.
The structure is made of 80% chocolate and is a sight to behold.
There are also portraits of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali created using M&M chocolates.
Dr Mahathir’s portrait was created by artist Bahrin Rashid using 5,359 pieces of colourful M&M chocolates which took 336 hours to complete, while Dr Siti Hasmah’s portrait was created by artist Ng Nok Huan using 2,656 pieces of M&Ms and 216 hours.
Also, marvel at 100 pieces of original “CowParade” figurines.>
CowParade is a famous public art event in the world staged in 79 cities worldwide since 1999.
Both children and adults can watch a 10.6m chocolate train model set in action, at noon and 3pm daily. It replicates the process involved in making chocolates which begins from the milking process in a farm in Switzerland, all the way until the chocolates reach the shelves.
Scale replicas of ships used for transportation of cocoa beans are displayed too.
Here, visitors also learn that Malaysia is now the largest cocoa grinder in Asia Pacific and the fifth largest in the world.
Malaysia is also a major exporter of cocoa butter, cocoa powder, cocoa paste chocolates and cocoa based confectioneries to over 100 countries.
In partnership with reputable international chocolate brands, the second section of the museum also showcases the history of well-loved brands such as Neuhaus (the inventor of praline chocolates), Nestlé’s Kit Kat, Cadbury, Nutella, Lindt and Hershey’s.
“Chocolate Museum 2.0 puts the creative minds at DR Group Holdings to the test and is proud to showcase fresh and unique exhibits that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
“This project took almost one year to be completed costing close to RM1mil,” said Muhamad Ridzwan.
Towards the end of the exhibition, visitors will witness how in-house chocolate chefs prepare chocolates.
For large group visits, booking is recommended.
The museum is located at No.2, Jalan Teknologi 3/5, Taman Sains Selangor 1, Kota Damansara, Selangor. It is open from 10am to 5pm daily. For details, visit http://www.chocolatemuseum.my/