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Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy

New York Gets Its First Chocolate Museum

Erin McCarthy
Erin McCarthy

If you're in New York City and have a craving for some chocolate, there are plenty of establishments that can satisfy that desire, from Max Brenner near Union Square to The Chocolate Room in Brooklyn. But if you're interested in learning about the rich and creamy history of the sweet (and maybe want to eat some too), then you might want to visit Choco-Story New York, The Chocolate Museum and Experience with Jacques Torres.

The SoHo museum opened its doors on Tuesday to chocolate fans hungry for sweet trivia. Unlike last year's Museum of Ice Cream, the establishment offers little in the way of photo-ops, but plenty of information and artifacts regarding the history and origin of chocolate. Fans can walk through the maze of information that covers everything from chocolate's place in Mayan and Aztec cultures, to when we first started using the beans in candy (surprisingly not until the 1800s). There are also cacao trees, ancient artifacts, and vintage cooking supplies to ogle, all before the main attraction: eating chocolate.

Guests can make their own old-fashioned hot cocoa and watch chefs demonstrate the elaborate process of making bonbons. For an extra fee, visitors can also partake in a chocolate bar making class taught by an actual chocolatier.

You can visit Choco-Story New York at 350 Hudson Street. It's open Wednesday through Sunday starting at 10 a.m., which means you have official permission to eat dessert before dinner—and lunch.

Images courtesy of Kevin Chiu.

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Odd Jobs
Dream Job Alert: Cadbury Is Looking for Professional Chocolate Tasters
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iStock

Can you taste the difference between semisweet and bittersweet chocolate? Do you have strong opinions on what makes a perfect cup of cocoa? If so, Cadbury wants to hear from you. As Insider reports, the candy brand’s parent company Mondelez International is hiring taste testers to aid in the development of their chocolate products.

The corporation, which also owns the chocolate bar brand Milka, is seeking applicants to fill four positions: three chocolate tasters and one chocolate and cocoa beverage taster. According to the job listings, Mondelez will train the new employees in sharpening their taste buds and broadening their flavor vocabulary, so no experience is necessary. The qualities they are looking for include a communicative personality, eagerness to try new products, honesty and objectivity, and a passion for all things sweet. Candidates must also be fluent in English and available to work in Reading, England, about 40 miles west of London.

Each job pays £9 ($12.44) an hour, with employees spending about eight hours a week working with other panelists in sensory booths and discussion rooms. The maximum 10 free chocolate samples they get to eat a day are a bonus.

Prospective employees have until February 16 to submit their resumes, but they should act fast: When Mondelez put out a call for taste-testers last year, they were flooded with thousands of applications.

[h/t Insider]

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Noshin R, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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Big Questions
What Makes Pop Rocks Pop?
Noshin R, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Noshin R, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Eating most candy isn’t complicated: You take a bite, enjoy a sugar-fueled dopamine rush, and repeat until you have a stomach ache. Chemist William A. Mitchell added another step to the process when he developed Pop Rocks. When the sweet, hard candy bits hit your mouth, they act up before breaking down, creating a crackling, hissing noise that would be alarming coming from any other food product. But when it happens to Pop Rocks, you know you’re getting what you paid for. So what exactly is it about the candy that makes it just as much of a science experiment as a sweet snack?

The answer lies in carbon dioxide. It’s the same gas that gives cola, beer, and champagne their effervescence, but it’s not a common ingredient in solid foods. In the late 1950s, Mitchell wondered if it was possible to create an instant soda tablet by baking CO2 into candy. Even though his idea didn’t take off, the experiments laid the basis for Pop Rocks.

Like other hard candies, Pop Rocks are made by mixing sugar, lactose, corn syrup, and flavorings. Once those ingredients are melted together and boiled, highly-pressurized CO2 is added. When the candy mixture hardens, it traps bubbles of gas exerting pressure at 600 pounds per square inch (psi). For reference, the pressure inside a champagne bottle measures in at 90 psi.

It’s impossible to detect the special component in Pop Rocks unless you taste them. Magical things happen when the candy meets up with your mouth: As your saliva dissolves the sugar, those powerful air pockets begin to burst like miniature firecrackers on your tongue. The 600 psi carbon dioxide collides with the 15 psi pressure of the atmosphere, resulting in a crack you can feel and hear. That’s why Pop Rocks are so noisy, whether you’re eating them or standing next to someone who is.

And if you’re worried that all that pressure will do some serious damage to your body, you can rest easy. Contrary to the hysteria from kids and parents, there’s never been a known case of death by Pop Rocks. That includes when it's mixed with Coke (sorry Mikey truthers).

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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