Everyone loves chocolate, and consequently, this tasty treat has managed to insert itself into our lives in a variety of ways. The history of chocolate is ancient and unique. The earliest known use of chocolate dates back to 1900 BC by the Aztecs in Mesoamerica. Originally consumed in the form of a bitter-tasting froth, after being introduced to the Europeans, it evolved into the sweet, solid, bar that we know and love today.

In honor of World Chocolate Day here is a list of the world’s boldest and brightest chocolate ventures. All of which have come a long way from their frothy roots.

The Hershey Spa

The Spa At The Hotel Hershey in Pennsylvania is just as amazing as it sounds. The Hotel is the past home of the American chocolate God, Milton Hershey. The Hotel spa offers a variety of facials, body scrubs, facial scrubs, massages, and hydrotherapies. What makes the establishment so unique is that most of their treatments involve cocoa. Examples of these include a whipped cocoa bath,  a chocolate bean polish, and a cocoa facial experience. Though the treatments can be quite expensive (15 min of the signature whipped cocoa bath costs $45) they are truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat 

The Musee du Cacao et du Chocolat in Belgium is exactly what you’d expect to see in the Chocolate Capital of the World. Though the streets are lined with chocolate shops that are all worthy of a visit, the Musee du Cacao et du Chocolat is exceptional. Filled with hands-on exhibits where adults and children are invited to learn the history and the art of chocolate, the museum is quaint but exciting.

Corners are filled with chocolate bits and bobbles, and the end of the tour features a tasty and informative chocolate-making lesson.

Guests are encouraged to taste the chocolate at different stages of production and also chocolates produced from different countries. And best of all, it only costs 6 euros to get in.

World Chocolate Master Championships

In the world of fine chocolate-production, there is perhaps no greater honor than winning the World Chocolate Master Championships. Last year’s winner was Frenchman Vincent Vallée. To win, Vallée created an avatar-esque womanly figure completed with dragonflies and lily pads. The championship takes place every year in October at the Salon du Chocolat in Paris. Competitors compete nationally first and are chosen based on their performance within their country before going to Paris. For those who are able to attend, this event is spectacular and hosts some of the most talented chefs in the world. The chef’s creations mix the realms of food and art, creating gastronomic chef d’oeuvres that would impress even the harshest critics.

The Chocolate Valley

It’s no secret that Italians love to eat, and tucked in a small section of Tuscany is proof of that. In an area that has become known as the “Chocolate Valley” between Pisa, Florence, and Montecatini, artisanal Italian craftsmen are taking over. Shops like Casa DeBondt, Amedei, La Molina and La Bottega del Cioccolato offer some of the world’s best chocolate.

The best part about the Italian chocolates? They’re entirely unique to the area.

While South American chocolates are known to infuse chilis and other spices in their chocolates and the Swiss, milk, the Tuscans are adding things like olive oil, balsamic, and lavender. A visit to the Chocolate Valley is sure to be both unique and sweet.

Los Dos Cooking School 

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Located in the heart of the colorful Yucatán peninsula,

Mérida is home to traditional Mexican chocolate – and by traditional we mean over 2,000 years old.

Most of the chocolate you’ll encounter in not only Mérida but all of Mexico is served as it was in its ancient liquid form. Establishments like the Ki Xocolatl, Rosas & Xocolate, and of course, Los Dos Cooking School. Headed by chef David Sterling, Los Dos draws in enormous international crowds for its traditional cooking classes. For the chocolate fanatics, a must-see is the One Day Chocolate Indulgence class.

Guests, like with all of Sterling’s courses, will begin with an introduction by Sterling himself and an in-depth class featuring all of the ins and outs of the Mayan’s ancient art of chocolate-making. For those who are seeking a hands-on, historical, and delicious adventure, this is surely the place to visit.

Hotel Chocolate Boucan 

While many know St. Lucia for having some of the best beaches in the world (amongst other things), one of its best-kept secrets is its thriving chocolate industry. Hotel Chocolate Boucan itself is beautiful and impressive, with arguably one of the world’s best pools and views. The Hotel boasts its own cacao plantation which guests are encouraged to visit and can even participate in making their own bar of chocolate. The resort is stunning and is a favorite for weddings and honeymoons. A sultry, beautiful and delicious, the Hotel Boucan is a treat for all chocoholics.

Salon Du Chocolat 

Image via Flickr CC-phalenebdlv

Home to the previously mentioned World Chocolate Master Championships, the Salon du Chocolat located in Paris, hosts a variety of chocolate-themed events. Notably, they host the Chocolate Fashion show held in October, where chocolatiers and fashion designers come together to create stunning edible dresses. The Salon also has cooking classes and music shows which presents music from cocoa-producing countries during their season.

The Salon is known for featuring some of the best French and international chocolates and tickets are highly sought after but luckily, entrance fees remain quite cheap (for adults, entrance to the salon is €14, and for children under 12, €6.50). Best of all, as we don’t all belong to the French elite, all the fashion demonstrated in the Chocolate Fashion Show will be presented in the exhibits. Yum!

Perugina Factory and Museum

Some claim that Perugina’s kiss was the original kiss. Whether or not that’s true, there’s no denying that Perugina’s kiss is definitely one of the most delicious chocolates made today. The museum located on the outskirts of Perugia, Italy features the largest Baci known to man, the BaciOne which weighs 13,158 pounds, and best of all, you’ll be able to see a live mass production of chocolates. At the end of the tour, guests are invited to sample and eat chocolates to their heart’s desire.

Note: Be sure to check ahead that you’ll be visiting at a time when chocolate production is high to ensure that the factory is working at capacity.

EuroChocolate 

It’s only fitting that the birthplace of the Baci is also the home to one of chocolate’s most anticipated festivals. The EuroChocolate festival happens annually in Perugia, Italy and is specifically dedicated to Italian chocolates – which as we’ve described before as some of the best in the world – and looks to represent its most famous brands. This includes chocolate demonstrations from Lindt, Caffarel, and of course, Perugina.

The festival has an unprecedented amount of chocolate tasting and also features chocolate sculptures that have included igloos and the world’s largest chocolate bar.

If you can’t make it to Perugia, EuroChocolate has even expanded to Rome and Turin.

Are you a chocoholic? What have been some of your favorite chocolate-inspired visits? Let us know below!

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About The Author

Chloe Nevitt

Lover of cheese. Trash panda enthusiast. Avid nap-taker and fridge-hunter. Occasionally writes and sometimes travels. Responds to "Chloe" and "Generous Overlord."