Chocolate Nation: Fall deeper in love with Belgian chocolate
TEXT: MONIQUE GADELLA | PHOTOS: CHOCOLATE NATION
At the Chocolate Nation museum in Antwerp, visitors can experience a proper Willy Wonka moment. “It is as if you have won the golden ticket!” a delighted visitor once commented. This is no ordinary museum. It’s an experience.
As if by magic, the doors open and your journey through the world of Belgian chocolate begins. Discover the origins, transport, traditions, history, brands, products and innovation of chocolate in 14 rooms. A large, fantastical machine explains the complicated process of making chocolate from cacao beans. It’s a truly magical masterpiece. It all culminates when you descend via a golden staircase to a room where you can taste ten different kinds of chocolate.
Belgium is synonymous with chocolate, and Antwerp is the largest chocolate port in the world. This prompted Mickelle Haest and Jeroen Jespers (managing partners and chocolate lovers) to open the city’s Chocolate Nation Museum. Haest realised that no one was telling the story about the product that is so uniquely associated with Belgium and created the museum in 2019.
Cacao beans grow in countries located at 20 degrees latitude on either side of the Equator, and at the museum, you can taste the difference between chocolate from Africa and South America. Visitors get a spoon – made from recycled plastic – to taste the different flavours of liquid chocolate. The liquid form makes you taste the chocolate better. Wine has 200 different tasting notes; chocolate has 400.
The museum attracts all kinds of visitors. Haest: “Men often tell us that they were dragged here by their wives, but were glad they came. It is such a unique museum.” Chocolate is kosher and halal, so it is suitable for everyone and people of all ages. It’s no wonder that people from around the world have found their way to the largest Belgian chocolate museum in the world.
“Chocolate also leads to romance,” says Haest. “Many proposals have taken place here.” The museum can construct a chocolate ball around the ring, which the bride-to-be knocks with a special hammer. If you love chocolate (and who doesn’t?) the Chocolate Nation Museum is a tasty treat and definitely worth a visit.
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