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chocolate dress
Care instructions for this chocolate dress may have included a warning about wearing it under hot lights  

Chocolatiers show off whimsical creations at New York expo

November 30, 1998
Web posted at: 1:30 p.m. EST (1830 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Many people claim to have a passion for chocolate. But few wear it on their sleeves.

In the case of a weekend chocolate show, French designers showed off dresses made from the stuff sweet dreams are made of.

"In Paris two months ago, we showed this dress with a real model. But if the lights are too hot, we have a problem," said chocolatier Michel Richart, one of the exhibitors at the first ever U.S. chocolate show.

The show is patterned after a similar festival in Paris. In New York, the event has drawn more than 2,000 people a day to see a variety of items ranging from simple candies to whimsical, elaborate chocolate sculptures and centerpieces.

In 1997, Americans consumed an average of 12 pounds of chocolate per person. One in every three people say they prefer the taste of chocolate over any other flavor. That has turned the art of chocolate into a $13 billion industry as boxed and gourmet items have sweetened retailer profits.

chocolate maker
The chocolate show is modeled after a Paris exhibit  

"We are up 40 percent in sales every year in America," said Bernard Duclos of the French chocolate company Valrhona.

While millions of people savor chocolate each year, few realize its history goes back more than a millennium in the Americas.

Carole Bloom, author of "All About Chocolate," said the Mayans were known to use chocolate around 600 A.D. Several centuries later, Cortez conquered Mexico and brought cocoa with him back to the Old World, she said.

CNN's Cynthia Tornquist contributed to this report.

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