Charlie (Jared) and the Chocolate Factory

Schokoladenmuseum… IMG_3176

That just sounds sooo much better than plain ole’ “chocolate museum”, doesn’t it? Language has a knack of transforming something as potentially dry as a museum into an inviting, intriguing pool of dark, melted, creamy goodness.

And so it was that Cologne’s Imhoff-Stollwerck Schokoladenmuseum, or Chocolate Museum, had me before I even walked through it’s doors. Let this tired boy swim among your mounds of cocoa beans. Give this poor boy your bittersweet offerings, let me huddle among your masses of milk chocolate truffles! By the way, do you guys serve beer here?

O.K., truth be told, I’m not a helpless chocolate freak like so many people are. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chocolate dessert like the next guy, but I’m not exactly transported anywhere by it. And since we’re on the subject, what’s the deal with women and chocolate? Can someone please explain that to me? It’s weirdly obscene and unsettling how strongly they can react to it. Insecure? Maybe. But I’m just sayin’…

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If my affair with chocolate is friendly at best, then maybe this hall of chocolate Gods would bring us closer. The museum itself wins points for saddling up right alongside the Rhine, an easy stroll along the river’s promenade from downtown. It loses those points right away, however, when you approach the outside of the building; What. Were. They. Thinking? In a city filled with breathtaking Gothic, Romanesque, and modern architecture, the designers of this structure seemingly decided to leave a giant chocolate turd along the river bank.

As you walk past the Malakoff tower, a stately and historic structure that once served as a defence of the harbor, you’re treated to a little more of that old, German magic. Fantastic faces of other-worlds wickedly smile down on you and put you in the appropriately childish “I will now eat chocolate ’til I burst” mood.


Problem is, you kinda lose your appetite when you turn the corner, look to your left, and see a hulking, bizarre combo of metal, glass, and concrete. It’s style can be summed up as follows: one part barge, one part museum, two parts factory, one part greenhouse, and two parts fun-house. I hate to actually put a photo of this in here, but here you go.

Schokoladenmuseum_koeln Man overboard!!


But hey– who cares about the outside of the place? It’s what’s inside that matters! And lordy, do they ever make up for the exterior. As soon as you walk through the doors, you’re nose perks up and involuntarily starts to twitch and sniff like a curious dog. “What’s that smell? Smells goood… Where’s it coming from? Can I have some of that? Please?” And the reason you’re instantly bombarded with lovely, inviting chocolate aromas is because the museum actually houses a working factory for Lindt chocolate, a Swiss company that has production sites around the world. IMG_3253

As you walk through the bottom floors, you can see, smell, and taste what’s being produced here. Always wanted to see how those chocolate candies got into those cutesy animal shapes or how they get wrapped? Step right up. Oh, and here, have a taste of fresh milk chocolate, dipped onto a wafer from our giant chocolate fountain. I knocked over a couple of fat, greedy German kids (where’s that old witch in the candy house when you need her?) to get seconds.

IMG_3251If you want to learn about the history, geographical distribution, health benefits, or economic influence of chocolate, you can spend some time checking out the many interactive displays. With special attention devoted to Central and South America, and sharing many similarities with the world of coffee, it gave me a new sense of appreciation for the impact these little beans have had on the world.

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Obviously, various foods and beverages have been produced through history with chocolate as a main ingredient. What really caught my eye, though, was a dry chocolate wine, made from cocoa beans and produced in Nigeria. Say what? I would’ve loved to have tasted this, but sadly it was locked up behind a glass case and protected from my sticky fingers.

The museum also has a greenhouse with live cocoa trees to check out, although I don’t recommend actually entering the room unless you want to lose about 4 pounds. I was in there for maybe 10 seconds and exited a sweaty, breathless mess. All for you, people, all for you.

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I walked out of that multi-storied chocolate conglomeration impressed, informed, and a little bit wired. What a treat. There was an option to sit outside along the river and have a chocolate drink and piece of cake afterwards, but enough was enough. Maybe some day I’ll return to battle more of the local brats (the kind with arms and legs) for another sample or two. Until then, I’m sure there will be plenty of hungry little mouths chirping for more goodies and reaching out for those brightly wrapped truffles. Besides, I don’t want to spoil my appetite too much…

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Chocolate cheers!

Jared

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~ by Jared on July 26, 2009.

7 Responses to “Charlie (Jared) and the Chocolate Factory”

  1. OK, Charlie and the Chocolate factory was one of my favorite books, as a child I might add. I love chocolate, Dark, NOT milk, I can smell the air there. I actually like that crazy building.
    As for us here this week three days off 100° weather on its way, then back to the normal Summer temps. Loving your writing.
    C & G
    PS-we will forgive you for not flying off to Paris!

  2. I hear it’s gonna be a sizzler there for a bit… good thing chocolate “melts in your mouth, not in your hands”!! That was lame…

    Hope you guy are great- head to the coast! I still might make it to Paris via the chunnel from London. Cross your fingers!

    Cheers,
    J

  3. I am one of those women who does not salivate over chocolate but after your description of your visit I might be tempted to lick my lips and fingers with the best of them!
    B.J.

    • HA! Personally, I enjoy chocolate better when it’s used in a non-dessert manner… a good mole sauce for example. But this place just made you want to go out and find every chocolate goody you could get your greedy hands on. I also failed to mention how many proven health benefits there are in pure cocoa/chocolate. Justified seconds on that chocolate cake??

      Cheers!
      Jared

  4. You’re doing a wonderful job with all this… goes without saying.

    You’re looking nice and relaxed and away from all the BS here. Keep drinking,eating, and having a great time.

    • Thanks T…

      Trying my best to eat, drink, and have a good time. Exercise? What’s that? Ohhh, my belly 🙂

      Missing all youz guys, though, and can’t wait to break bread, sip vino, and have some good laughs real soon. Dodgers-Yankees, huh? Could be. Baseball could use a series like that.

      Stay cool this week, amigo!

      Cheers,
      Jared

  5. Does this mean the trip is winding down and you’re headed back to The U S of A ?? Marone….

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