Volunteer gets insider's look at "Chocolate"
As a volunteer docent at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (ANS), Elaine Ellison has learned about many aspects of the natural world.
Most recently, thanks to the opening of “Chocolate: The
Exhibition,” the 78-year-old retired speech pathologist had the pleasure of learning about what some
call the “food of the gods.” This exhibit explores the plant, products, history and culture of chocolate.
Docents at ANS have an inside track, learning little-known facts about the special exhibits in advance, so they can enhance the experience by sharing and answering questions.
“Our ancestors drank a chocolate liquid that was very bitter and not what you think of as hot chocolate today. If you can’t get to the parts of the world where
these things come from, this museum is the next best thing,” Ellison says.
The exhibit includes hands-on digital interactives showing where chocolate grows
and how it is produced in the factory today. Visitors
can stand beneath a cacao tree in a replica of a lush rainforest and watch
animated modern-day machinery turn cacao from seeds into sweet, solid bars.
There are also related activities, events, and, of course, foods.
“Our family loves the natural world,” Ellison
says. “We’re interested in plants – gardening and raising orchids, archaeology,
fossils, evolution, and how humans fit into the scheme of living things.”
traveled with her family to national parks, the continental divide and to Kenya
on safari. When she and her husband traveled to find orchids in South America
and Mexico, they saw cacao pods on trees in their natural habitat.