5000 years of cultural history

The Chocolate Museum gives you insights by taking you on a journey through 5,000 years of chocolate's cultural history.

On approximately 4.000 m2 of museum floorspace, exhibits show the emergence, history and culture of chocolate.

The unique collection, including literature and graphics, comprises round about 100.000 objects.

The conqueror and the cocoa bean

Christopher Columbus was reputed to be the first European, in 1502, to come into contact with cocoa bit didn't take any further notice of it. At the end of the 16th century, chocolate became a popular drink among immigrant missionaries and settlers. From mesoamerica, chocolate then successfully spread around the whole world.

A treasure trove

The Museum's "treasure trove" gives you a look into pre-Columbian mesoamerica and into the cultures of the Olmecs, Mayas and Aztecs for whom cocoa was a drink of the Gods while also serving as a form of currency over the centuries.

You can view extremely rare exhibits which reveal the status that cocoa had for these cultures and the ways in which it was prepared. We show you sculptures and objects used in rituals, as well as milling stones and drinking vessels.

Maya writings

The Mayas had their own system of writing in which cocoa hieroglyphics repeatedly appeared. These can be seen on vessels in our exhibition.

How chocolate conquered Europe

Chocolate has been enjoyed for almost 5,000 years. In the 17th and 18th centuries it conquered the salons of aristocratic and wealthy classes.

To enjoy cocoa in a socially acceptable way required a chocolate service made of highly valued porcelain, silver and gold. Our collection shows you chocolate cups and pots which demonstrate the feudal use of the luxury goods within the courts.

Let yourself be transported back to aristocratic society where life was characterized by cultivated inactivity.

In the eighteenth century, chocolate was always prepared in the same way and differed only in taste through the addition of spices. The ingredients needed to be of the highest quality. Preparation of the drink was the task of favourite female servants and specially trained "chocolate maids". Their only task was to turn the precious cocoa beans into a drink, and then serve it.

A luxury product becomes affordable

During the 19th and 20th centuries, chocolate slowly became affordable through industrialisation and colonisation. Cocoa and pralines remained, however, a gift for special occasions.

Two historical shops set-ups from the period show how cocoa and chocolate products were presented in highly decorative packaging. More information on how chocolate developed from a luxury product to a product for the masses can be found in the section on cultural history.

Marvel at the precious chocolate services within our porcelain palace. They clearly show the status the luxury drink once held. In 1887, a ground-breaking attraction was invented: the chocolate vending machine. Our collection includes one of these historical items which you can admire and even operate just like they did 100 years ago.

Early advertising boom

Chocolate is everywhere whether on the radio or in TV. Even in the past, the chocolate market spared no effort in impressing us with delightful packaging, enamel signs and placards. A look back at the early history of advertising and PR is provided by around 30 impressive chocolate vending machines held in our collection. These could be found at the end of the 19th century in the railway stations of New York, on the Zugspitze (Germany's highest peak), and along the Champs-Elysées. Many people are sure to recall the picture cards that could be collected and kept in specially produced albums. These were originally intended as promotional material for sample packages but became so successful that there were soon being used for regular sales. All this promotional material, which was mainly being used from the turn of the century until the 1950s, can be seen as part of our exhibits.

We invite you to visit our "Chocolate Cinema" where we show you "sweet" advertising spots from 1926 until the present day.

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