published Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Gooey goodness: Chattanooga's Creative Discovery Museum celebrates all things chocolate

Joey McArdle, 3, uses tools to conch chocolate, a process which redistributes fat and changes flavor, at the Creative Discovery Museum's second annual Chocolate Festival on Saturday. Children were able to learn about the process of making chocolate and eat samples of chocolate treats.
Joey McArdle, 3, uses tools to conch chocolate, a process which redistributes fat and changes flavor, at the Creative Discovery Museum's second annual Chocolate Festival on Saturday. Children were able to learn about the process of making chocolate and eat samples of chocolate treats.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

There was chocolate everywhere. Upstairs. Downstairs. It was something like a Willy Wonka madhouse on Chestnut Street.

There were people, too, at the Creative Discovery Museum on Saturday, participants of all ages celebrating the museum's second annual Chocolate Festival.

Around 1,000 people came out, Liza Blair, arts manager at the museum, said Saturday afternoon.

Add one very large, orange M&M bouncing around the crowd for photos, and here's the scene: childlike happiness and an aroma that dragged kids and adults to the second-floor kitchen, even after all of 100 or more chocolate chip cookies were gone.

"I'm very happy with the result," Blair said Saturday.

She dreamed up the idea for a Chocolate Festival, which would be a chance to show area kids how much work actually goes into the everyday items seen on store shelves -- cocoa butter lotion, chocolate chip cookies and candy bars, among others.

And many young museumgoers were surprised to learn that not all chocolate products are edible.

"A kid tried to eat the block of cocoa butter," Jessica Ostland, a museum volunteer, said. She worked the cocoa butter lotion stop. Cocoa butter actually is edible, but not in block quantities, like chocolate foods.

"Chocolate is a treat," Blair said. While it suffers from a reputation as a "junk food," she said keeping its treat status in mind is the key.

"There are a lot of foods that could be considered junk foods if you gorge yourself on [them]," she said.

Before the chocolate chip cookies were eaten up, Tim Cummins hung out with his wife, kids, nieces and nephews in the "Culinary Corner."

The kids enjoyed a day at the museum and a few "still squishy" chocolate chip cookies, just out of the oven.

The oversized, walking M&M was their favorite part of the day, they said -- for the most part. Some of the youngsters were a little overwhelmed by him.

The Cummins family has lived in Chattanooga for nearly 10 years, and they buy season passes every year to either Warner Park Zoo, the Tennessee Aquarium or the Creative Discovery Museum.

They didn't know Saturday was Chocolate Festival day, but they considered it the luck of the draw.

"It's great for the kids," Tim said. "It's a good deal for us."

One of the blonde Cummins girls kindly lent him a corner piece of her cookie.

That's part of Blair's targeting in the Chocolate Festival.

"Most people have an affinity for chocolate," she said.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.

about Alex Green...

Alex Green joined the Times Free Press staff full-time in January 2014 after completing the paper's six-month, general assignment reporter internship. Alex grew up in Dayton, Tenn., which is also where he studied journalism at Bryan College. He graduated from Rhea County High School in 2008. During college, Alex covered the city of Graysville and the town of Spring City for The Herald-News. As editor-in-chief of Bryan College's student news group, Triangle, Alex reported on ...

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