York’s new chocolate museum officially opened in York today, when a former confectionery worker took a molinillo (chocolate whisk) to a giant piñata-style Easter egg to mark the occasion.
Barbara Gibson is just one of the many people whose sweet memories are shared in the attraction, which will take visitors on a tasty journey through the story of how the UK’s love of chocolate and confectionery began in York.
Juliana Delaney, chief executive at CHOCOLATE – York’s Sweet Story, said: “Our chocolatier Andrew used 22lbs of chocolate to create a piñata style Easter egg for the opening ceremony. The team has made thousands of chocolates over the past couple of weeks, but for our official opening we wanted to make something extra special that everyone watching could enjoy a piece of. The piñata tradition is thought to have originated with the Aztecs and Mayans which is also where our chocolate story starts. The Aztec tradition was very much about ensuring prosperity for the year ahead, so, in many ways it was the perfect way to launch CHOCOLATE – York’s Sweet Story and to celebrate an industry that has contributed so much to the city and the UK’s cultural love of chocolate and confectionery.”
Visitors to the museum will be taken on a tour of the mouth-watering journey from the Aztecs and Mayans to the present day confectionery industry which continues to thrive in York by a professional confectioneer. Everyone who visits CHOCOLATE will learn the fine art of chocolate tasting and the intricate processes that cocoa beans go through in order to become chocolate bars including grinding, conching and tempering.
The new attraction also features priceless objects including the long lost cocoa tin that survived Captain Scott’s fateful expedition to Antarctica to be found next to his frozen body on 29 March 1912. Mr York, who was an A-list celebrity of his day, also makes an appearance.
Stories uncover tales of how a Quaker named Mary Tuke made such an impact on the city and its people when she opened a grocery store in 1725 selling cocoa; how the production of sugared almonds in the French Almond Works in York influenced 1960s fashion; and how if it wasn’t for two men who sold cough lozenges and lemon and orange peel in 1767, Terry’s Chocolate Oranges and All Gold wouldn’t exist today.
York’s confectionery industry’s chocolate roots led to the development of specialist skills using sugar and flavours to develop gums and boiled sweets such as York Fruits, Craven’s Humbugs and the unforgettable Polos, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles and Fruit Gums.
There are lots of opportunities to find out interesting facts about York’s famous brands. And, of course, no story of York and confectionery would be complete without a celebration of the life of KIT KAT. The billion dollar brand that started its life as Rowntree’s Chocolate Crisp and is now a global phenomenon with 17.8 billion fingers sold every year.
Let us know if your take the CHOCOLATE tour this weekend, and what your experiences are.