Feb. 17 2010 12:00 AM

Chocolate Party can be sugar-shocking



Forget that blah box of truffles. Valentine’s Day might be over, but the Michigan State University Museum has more chocolate than Hershey’s factory.

Well, maybe.

The museum will host its annual Chocolate Party Benefit at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. The celebration of all things cocoa features a dozen vendors from sweets shops across Michigan handing out candies, truffles, cupcakes and more to guests. Event manager Mike Secord’s advice to first-timers? “Pace yourself and come hungry, or you might get chocolate-d out.”

Indeed. The two-hour chocoholic’s dream-come-true features desserts from such mid-Michigan retailers as Bakes N’ Cakes, Sweetie-licious Pie Panty and Cookies by Design, each serving up over 600 samples to hungry partygoers.

In between nosh sessions — and Secord assures us there are places to rest and recover from sugar overload — attendees can also enjoy the other offerings, such as a silent auction featuring baskets from vendors, sports memorabilia and tickets to MSU events.

Or visitors can always take a peek at the work of confectioners trying to cook up the greatest chocolate creation. “The competition is a separate component,” Secord explains. “But all the attendees can visit the competition and check out the sculptures and all that.”

The competition pieces usually focus on the event’s theme. This year, that’s based on the Ben Stiller film “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” in which museum displays come to life.

Warring chefs will bring their sculptures to life, which Secord shares will be based on scenes and characters from the movie — and may even include a few dinosaurs.

Though competition pieces will be scrutinized mainly by a panel of judges chosen by the MSU Museum, attendees will have their say in who’s the greatest chocolatier, too. “We have a people’s choice award for the vendors and for the favorite competitor,” Secord explains. “It’s kind of neat to see the average person who might not be able to create one of these masterpieces get to see them.”

And to eat them. However, competitors are only required to provide 100 samples of their creations, so the true chocolate lovers should get there quick.

The favorites, Secord shares, are always truffles, cupcakes and, of course, the fondue fountain — so all of those Willy Wonka fans can live out their chocolate factory fantasies. “The chocolate fountain always has a big crowd around it,” he adds, “because that’s so visual and you don’t see it every single day.”

Chocolate Party

for the Michigan State University Museum 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center 55 South Harrison Road East Lansing
$25-$75. www.museum.msu.edu