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Chocolates Haute Couture or Prêt-à-porter

Switzerland is known for its chocolate, which Belgians for their chocolatiers. Thereby the Praline invented in France.

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Belgium and Switzerland play the leading roles in chocolate

Belgium is known for its chocolatiers, Switzerland for its chocolate. Both  of these countries have a long chocolate tradition. The Swiss Jean Neuhaus emigrated to Belgium and offered cocoa-containing products in his pharmacy there, which he sometimes used to sweeten bitter pills. His grandson Jean Neuhaus began to produce chocolates in small series for the first time

It hurt his wife’s heart when these delicacies in what were then paper bags were broken during transport. She invented a chocolate box in which the delicate chocolates could be transported , the basic elements of which are still used by good chocolatiers today.

The praline comes from France  of course

Pralines were first made for the Count of Plessis-Praslin  by the French cook César de Choiseul . The cook named the sweet delicacies after  his employer Praslins, from which the word praline is derived , but  Jean Neuhaus is widely known as the inventor of praline.

As a result , a number of chocolate companies were established in Belgium. The latter succeeded  in lobbying the then King Leopold and induced him to grow cocoa beans in the then Belgian colony of Congo. This was intended to reduce dependence on South American cocoa.

Colonialism and chocolate are closely linked.  In 1528, the Spaniard Cortez brought cocoa, Mexican pepper and Tahitian vanilla from his conquests to Spain. As Belgium was part of the Kingdom of Spain at that time, the Belgians had very early access to chocolate.

Belgium took advantage of this time lead. To this day there are a number of successful chocolatiers in Belgium who dominate the market worldwide, especially in the luxury sector. Some of  the most famous chocolate houses such as  Godiva, Guylian  and Galler  are now  owned by foreign investors whose capital has been used to successfully develop foreign markets such as China, Japan and the USA.

Godiva now belongs to the Turkish holding company Yildiz (unfortunately with this  change of ownership our favorite praline with the delicious rum-marzipan filling was also deleted), Guylian belongs to a group from South Korea and Galler is owned by the royal family of Quatar.

Chocolate for every country

The chocolate production is country-specific. The majority of  Belgian chocolate producers, for example, have committed themselves to  a code that excludes fats  other than  those of the cocoa bean.

The European regulation allows up to 5 percent of other (usually cheaper) fats. Whoever tries chocolate bars in England or the United States of America quickly notices that the taste is very different compared to  chocolate from Belgium or Switzerland.


The world’s largest chocolate fountain is in Zurich

In September of this year, the Home of Chocolate was opened at Schokoladenplatz 1 in Kilchberg, Zurich, a space for experiencing the history and manufacture  of chocolate by Lindt & Sprüngli AG. One hundred  million francs were invested in the  new  chocolate house , which was designed by renowned museum architects.

In the atrium, the probably world’s largest chocolate fountain in  the form of an egg whisk was placed with a height of over 9 meters. What resembles a Jeff Koons sculpture is a reminder that the first conching machine for chocolate was invented in Switzerland in 1879 by Rudolphe Lindt from Bern. Conching – a refinement process in which the  chocolate is stirred  along a certain temperature curve  for up to 24 hours – gives  the otherwise rather  hard  chocolate a shine and soft melting

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The fine differences between the AG and the family business

Rodolphe Lindt and Rudolf Sprüngli founded Lindt & Sprüngli AG. In 1892 Rudolf Sprüngli divided the company between his two sons. Johann Rudolf takes over the chocolate factory , now Lindt & Sprüngli AG, while David Robert takes over  the confectionery , which operates under the  name Confiserie Sprüngli as  a family-run craft enterprise .

The confectionery Sprüngli is  responsible for fine truffles and maccarons (Luxembürgerli), while Lindt  is positioned  in the volume market, generating worldwide sales of  4.1 billion Swiss francs in 2017,  while maintaining the image of the master chocolatier in white uniform and chef’s hat in its brand communication.

The shrine of GloriousMe

Like many products , chocolate requires constant  innovation. As pleasure purists, we nevertheless very much  regret that the beautiful Jugendstil Café of Confiserie Sprüngli on Paradeplatz in Zurich, for decades  the  place of pilgrimage for GloriousMe to drink hot chocolate and enjoy the Truffes du  Jour, now also offers quinoa salad and hamburgers. For us, the smell of other foods  alone is not compatible with fine chocolate.

The Swiss chocolate industry attaches great importance to the protection of the Swiss chocolate brand, for which  only ready-made conched chocolate  or chocolate mass may be used that has been produced entirely in Switzerland  from cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar and possibly milk. Globalization has not stopped at Swiss chocolate either. Suchard, founded by the Swiss confectioner Philippe Suchard, initially merged with Jacob Suchard and was sold to the American company  Kraft in 1990. Since the division of the Kraft company, the chocolate business has operated under the name Mondelez.

The Matterhorn is located in Switzerland. The Toblerone, however, has not made its home in Switzerland for a long time

The fact that Milka and Toblerone are now brands of the American company Mondelez would hardly have been noticed by consumers if Mondelez had not decided to offer the Toblerone in England with fewer “mountain ranges” in view of the falling English pound and rising raw material prices.

This emotional theme was taken up by many  newspapers as a symbol of the impending brexite : More valleys than heights. In this context, many reports  have pointed out  that Toblerone no longer comes from Switzerland,  as most chocolate lovers  thought, who liked to buy the huge Toblerone bars in the Duty Free Shop as a typical Swiss souvenir, whose shape is reminiscent of the Matterhorn.

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