What Makes Swiss Chocolate Swiss?

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“Switzerland is a place where they don’t like to fight, so they get people to do their fighting for them while they ski and eat chocolate. “

Larry David

The Swiss import of high-quality cocoa beans are from places that only produce the best in the world.   The milk is homegrown from Swiss cows that provide freshness as an alternative to using powdered milk.

Chocolate arrives in Switzerland …

At the outset, the Swiss chocolate pioneers had to struggle hard for their subsequent sweet success. When, in the second half of the 18th century, natives of Yal Blenio in the Tessin popularized chocolate in Switzerland, nobody dreamt that just a few decades later, a handful of Swiss would lay the foundations of the world-wide reputation of the Swiss   chocolate industry.   Neither their geographical position nor the customs and habits of their   forefathers argued well for the success of such a venture. However disorganized the efforts of the Swiss chocolate pioneers may have been, they were firmly united by a single purpose–to improve the quality of the chocolate.   The technical genius of these pioneers seems to have been almost inexhaustible; their inventive skill showed itself not only in the development of ever more efficient machinery, but also in their constantly more refined recipes for the manufacture of chocolate.

The Hardest Working Men in Chocolate

Many of the names which make our mouths water when we see them as well-known trade marks on all the best known chocolates, remind us of the work and achievements of the pioneers of Swiss Chocolate.   From small beginnings, they laid the foundation which upholds the reputation of Swiss chocolates right up to the present day.

FRANCOIS-LOUIS CAILLER (1796-1852) saw chocolate for the first time at a local fair.  Italian chocolate makers were stirring the exquisite potion which so titillated the nostrils of the young François that he went to Italy as a Swiss “immigrant labourer”.  For four years he worked in the Caffarel chocolate factory in Milan.  He then returned home as a master chocolate maker, and had a press with stone rollers built to his own design.  In 1819 he opened the first Swiss chocolate factory at Corsier, near Vevey.

At the age of 12, PHILIPPE SUCHARD (1797-1884) was sent to Neuchâtel to collect a pound of chocolate from the local apothecary for his ailing mother.  The tonic preparation cost 6 francs, which, in those days, represented a laborer’s wages for three days!  In 1815, he was allowed to start work as an apprentice confectioner with his elder brother in Berne. In 1824 he left Switzerland to visit the United States. At the end of the year he returned and opened a confectioner’s business in Neuchâtel.   In Serrieres, he set up a chocolate factory, powered by a water-wheel.   With only one assistant, he was producing at that time between 50 and 60 pounds of chocolate a day.   In 1880, Philippe Suchard opened the first Swiss foreign branch in Lorrach, Germany.

In 1826, JACQUES FOULQUIER (1798-1865) started the production of chocolate by hand in Geneva. His son-in-law, Jean-Samuel Favarger, later became his successor.

As a wholesale provision merchant, CHARLES-AMEDEE KOHLER(1790- 1874) started by buying ready-made chocolate, but finally went over to producing his own in 1830.   Like Cailler and Suchard before him, he strove constantly to improve and perfect the popular types of chocolate.   In one of his experiments he succeeded in developing something which was going to be of great benefit to the chocolate industry – hazelnut chocolate.   In partnership with his son, he manufactured this new speciality in Lausanne. The Kohler factory became a large operation following its merger with the firm of Daniel Peter.

After the founding of the first chocolate factories in French Switzerland, 1845 saw the establishment of the first factory in the German-speaking part of the country.   In that year, RODOLPHE SPRÜNGLI-AMMANN(1816- 1897), using an improved method of manufacture, produced chocolate for the first time in his confectioner’s shop in Zürich.   In 1899, his son, Rodolphe Sprüngli-Schifferli or, more accurately, Chocolat Sprüngli A.G., took over the factory of Rodolphe Lindt.   The reputation of Lindt chocolate was so great that the price paid for the secret recipes, the trade-mark rights and the equipment was 1 1/2 million gold francs !

AQUILINO MAESTRANI (1814-1880), whose father was one of those natives of Tessin who emigrated to Lombardy in the middle of the 18th century to learn “the chocolate trade”, and who, himself, gained valuable experience in Milan, opened a chocolate factory in Lucerne in 1852.   Soon space became too limited for the constantly expanding factory, and Maestrani moved to St. Gallen.

JACQUES KLAUS (1814-1909), a native of the canton of Zürich, made an extended “journeyman’s” tour through Switzerland and France before setting up in business as a confectioner in Le Locle. In 1856 he established a chocolate factory which rapidly achieved a considerable reputation.

The road which led DANIEL PETER (1836 – 1919) to chocolate was anything but straight. The son of a butcher, he was employed by a woman in Vevey who owned a grocer’s shop and made candles as a sideline.   Since his employer, Madame Clement, saw straight away where the boy’s real interest lay, she let him take over the candlemaking on his own account.   Unfortunately or rather, fortunately for the chocolate industry, the paraffin lamp became popular just at this time, and from then on the Swiss, like most of us, used candles mainly to decorate their Christmas trees.   But Daniel Peter’s interest in Vevey was not confined to candles; he also had an eye on Fanny Cailler, the eldest daughter of François-Louis Cailler.   And so, almost accidentally, he discovered chocolate.   But he didn’t let matters rest there. Like a true Swiss, he took milk and combined it with chocolate.   1875 was the proud year of Daniel Peter’s invention of milk chocolate.

HENRI NESTLE (1814 – 1890) was a latecomer to the chocolate industry.   His story started with milk.   But not the milk we find on the doorstep every morning or buy in the grocer’s shop.   Henri Nestle had invented the manufacture of children’s groats (cereal) and, in this connection, had perfected the making of condensed milk, without which Daniel Peter could not have industrialized his milk chocolate.   The Nestle and Peter companies worked so closely, following the death of the two founders, that in 1905 Messrs. Peter, who had meantime joined forces with Kohler, produced, to cater for the French taste, a very sweet chocolate developed by the Nestle company.

Below the cathedral in Berne, RODOLPHE LINDT (1855 1909) opened a chocolate factory powered by a water-wheel.   A born manufacturer, his genius for invention led him to a new process by which he produced the first melting chocolate. The refining effect, which we know today as “conching”, was first noticed by Rodolphe Lindt while processing chocolate over several days in a narrow mixing trough.   He incorporated this into his production methods and, at the same time, developed equipment on principles still in use today.   The addition of cocoa butter to the chocolate, to give it the necessary melting quality, was another epoch-making discovery of this man from Berne.   These discoveries and the invention of milk chocolate by Daniel Peter were essential to the manufacture and success of the fine Swiss chocolate we know today.

In 1893 CHARLES MšLLER and KARL. BERNHARDT founded the first, and to this day the only chocolate factory in the canton of Grison. As a result, it traded under the name “Grison”.   It changed hands in 1961 and then carried on under the name of Lindt & Sprongli.

In the Langgasse area of Berne, JEAN TOBLER (1830-1905), a native of Appenzell, had conducted his “Confiserie speciale” since 1868.   He had learned the confectionery trade in St. Gallen and in Paris.   On opening his shop in Berne, he sold mainly specialities which he made himself, using chocolate coatings supplied by various manufacturers.   Very soon he was selling so much chocolate that he thought that he should make it himself.  And so he was forced by circumstances to become a chocolate manufacturer. In the year 1899, he and his sons founded the “Fabrique de Chocolat de Berne, Tobler & Cie.”.   Today, this firm belongs together with Suchard to the Jacobs Suchard Tobler company.

In the twentieth century, the Swiss chocolate industry has proved its unbroken ability for pioneer performances as well. Further companies were founded and have helped to build up the image of the Swiss chocolate’s high standing all over the world by their successful activity over many decades and as members of Chocosuisse:

    • 1902 NAGO AG, Olten (1971 merger with Lindt & Sprungli)
    • 1908 MAX FELCHLIN AG, Schwyz
    • 1928 STELLA SA, Lugano
    • 1929 CAMILLE BLOCH SA, Courtelary
    • 1931 CARMA AG, D Bendorf
    • 1933 BERNRAIN AG, Kreuzlingen

Innovations, continuous investments in their plants and efforts in research and development will ensure the Swiss chocolate manufacturers to remain up-to-date. “Only the best quality is good enough” is the maxim, today as ever!

thanks to infogalaxy.com

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6 Responses to “What Makes Swiss Chocolate Swiss?”

  1. August 24, 2011 at 7:17 am #

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    • Chocolate Guru
      August 29, 2011 at 12:52 am #

      Thanks for the comment!

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    • Chocolate Guru
      August 29, 2011 at 12:52 am #

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