I honestly hadn’t realized how new chocolate is. Sure, cocoa pods have been fermented and ground for thousands of years, consumed as a spicy or sweet elixir depending on the era. But chocolate bars themselves didn’t exist until 1847. They were born of early industrialization, which allowed a press to smash cocoa pods, separating the cocoa butter and cocoa powder–two components that could be remixed and molded in the perfect proportions to give us splendid chocolate.
It’s the sort of thing you can learn for yourself at NYC’s first chocolate museum, which was opened recently as an add-on to the midtown shop run by esteemed chocolatier Jacques Torres. Torres took me for a personal tour–where I earned the side-eye from staff as he elbowed them out of the way to let me try my hand at making truffles from scratch.
Above all else, though, the chocolate museum is a perfect example of how food is evolving alongside retail in general, to offer a unique experience on top of oft-commoditized goods. Tickets to the museum start at $10, and speaking from experience, you can eat enough chocolate along the way to come out ahead on that deal.