Sugar Shack

Finally, a museum display all can enjoy: Chocolate.

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Take a deep breath, chocoholics: The Great Lakes Science Center is satisfying Northeast Ohio's glucose levels with its new traveling display, Chocolate: The Exhibit, which opens today and runs through the beginning of May. "The idea that chocolate was used by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, and its accident with milk and sugar have made it the global commodity that it is today. It's influenced economies and lifestyles worldwide," says Linda Abraham-Silver, the museum's director. "We thought the exhibit would be a great match for Cleveland."The 6,000-square-foot exhibit from Chicago's Field Museum traces 1,500 years of history behind the cacao tree and its seeds, which were so treasured back in the day that they were often used as currency. Part of the display shows how hot chocolate mixed with liquid nitrogen makes chocolate ice cream. On the way out the door, patrons can buy $30 boxes of Vosges gourmet chocolates that contain traces of wild ingredients like chipotle chilies, black-sesame seeds, Indian curry powder, and hemp. To a "boring-milk-chocolate fan" like Abraham-Silver, the candy is a sinful diversion. "They have the most amazing flavors that they've mixed with chocolate," says Abraham-Silver. "I'm now exploring these chocolate combinations, and they're absolutely fabulous."Through the exhibit's run, the museum will also stage chocolate-tasting parties — like Thursday's samplings of the candy along with vino from the Cleveland Wine School. In April, it'll team with the Animal Protective League to show some love to chocolate Labrador retrievers. And it's not a coincidence that the exhibit runs during the Valentine's Day and Easter celebrations. "Of course, it's not an accident," laughs Abraham-Silver. "You don't have to sell this theme to anyone." Satisfy your sweet tooth from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily through Sunday, May 4, at the Great Lakes Science Center, 601 Erieside Avenue. Admission is $12.50 ($8.50 for kids). Call 216-694-2000 or visit
Feb. 9-May 4, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., 2008
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