Chasing Chocolate: The Chocolate Exhibition at Union Station, Kansas City, Missouri

Last Updated on December 24, 2012 by Jody Halsted

Like chocolate? Then you’ll want to head down to Union Station in Kansas City because the Chocolate Exhibition has been extended thru January 17!

Chocolate the Exhibition
Chocolate the Exhibition

The national tour of Chocolate the Exhibition was developed by the Field Museum and is nearing the end of it’s national tour.

(Photos are not allowed inside the exhibit. I was allowed special access to share some of the exhibit with my readers.)

The exhibit takes you from chocolate’s humble beginnings as a very large pod filled with seeds. Learning about the cocoa seeds was incredibly informative. From bugs to birds, plants to people, everything has to be “just right” for the large pods to grow.

Cocoa Tree Chocolate Exhibition
Cocoa Tree

There were many interactive displays that helped us to keep the girls interested, though I did notice that we had the only children in the exhibit. I did think that was a shame- what kid doesn’t like chocolate? And the process from seed to bar is just amazing.

The girls- and even myself- were fascinated by the value chocolate had as money. It was so valuable that most couldn’t afford to drink it. Think of it like drinking your money. It was used to buy every day items like eggs, tomatoes, peppers and avocados. It wasn’t sold in markets and was kept locked away.

Cocoa as Money Chocolate Exhibition
Cocoa as Money

Even when chocolate came to Europe it was only enjoyed by the upper classes for many years. Special cups and pots were used for it. In fact, the saucer was invented to keep chocolate from dripping onto clothes.

Manufacturing Chocolate Chocolate Exhibition
Manufacturing Chocolate

Mass production of chocolate is a recent event- and the addition of milk (ie: milk chocolate) made it affordable to everyone.

Chocolate Box Televisions Chocolate Exhibition
Chocolate Box Televisions

The large “box of chocolates” wall with televisions was a great ending to the exhibit. The girls sat on “chocolate cup” chairs and listened to scientists and “regular people” talk about the “happiness effect” chocolate has and how it is dangerous for dogs.

Of course you can’t end a chocolate tour without a taste of what you’ve learned about… The samples are available as long as they last. Yum!

There is also a gift shop at the exit. Sadly it seemed to be sparsely populated. I fully expected chocolates galore… The offerings were a disappointment after such an interesting exhibition.

Want to go? Here’s the info:

Disclosure: We were provided tickets to this exhibit. Thoughts and photos are my own.

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  1. Have you ever been to the chocolate event they have in downtown DM? My family and I went to it…oh…it must have been 15+ years ago. As I recall, it took place somewhere in the skywalks area (I want to say it was in Younkers) and you paid some entrance fee to sample lots of chocolate. Not sure if they still do that event in DM…


  2. Thanks for the comment! I think you may be referring to what is now called the "Chocolate Breakfast" which is hosted annually by Van & Bonnie from WHO Radio. It's now held at the Hy Vee Convention Center in West Des Moines. If you go you need to arrive VERY early- and, honestly, don't bring kids. The lines are long, the wait is long and small kids can get trampled by greedy adults (I know from experience).

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