Who doesn’t love chocolate? My husband, but that’s a story in itself. Most people love it, crave it and schedule it into their daily lives. Switzerland’s chocolate is a category all its own and because of this it is an important piece of any Switzerland travel. We’ll introduce you to the history of Swiss chocolate and share with you a number of our local favorites.
The history of chocolate in Switzerland
In 1615 Switzerland was first introduced to chocolate in liquid form after the Maria Anna of Austria brought her childhood memories of hot chocolate in Madrid to central Europe. Chocolate in drink form dominated until the 19th century when pioneers of the Industrial Revolution paddled chocolate into a solid. François-Louis Cailler built the first mechanized chocolate facility in 1819 and is the oldest Swiss chocolate brand today. In 1875 Daniel Peter first mixed milk and chocolate at his factory in Vevey, Switzerland and soon after Randolph Lindt developed the world’s first melting chocolate by utilizing a special conching (mixing) process. Needless to say, the Swiss are chocolate experts and long time connoisseurs.
A few of our favorites…
Coop is one of Switzerland’s largest grocery store chains and is appropriately named since it’s structured as a cooperative society of over 2.5 million members. They also happen to produce delicious and affordable chocolate. Only available at Coop stores, our favorites include the Fairtrade Picknick (milk chocolate with mixed nuts) and the Organic Dark Chocolate Salted Pistachio from NaturaPlan. Coop chocolate is the perfect souvenir for friends back home as it’s challenging to purchase outside of Switzerland and it’s really really really good. We also find that the Coop chocolate bars are quite resilient when bounced around all day in a hiking pack.
Lindt & Sprungli:
Randolph Lindt was the first to taste melting chocolate after a vat of chocolate was accidentally left stirring for an entire weekend in his factory. This marked the beginning of Lindt melt-in-your-mouth chocolate which has delighted chocolate consumers for the past 138 years. Today Lindt has expanded internationally and as a result you need to be a detective when looking for Switzerland born varieties. For example, Lindt milk chocolate Easter bunnies are the symbol of Easter in Switzerland yet they are made in Germany.
Lindt acquired American based Ghiradelli in 1998 and Russell Stover in 2014 and is now one of the largest chocolate manufactures in the world and 3rd in the U.S.. If we must choose a favorite, the Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate (70% and above) and Lindor truffles are top on the list. If you are interested in learning more about Lindt chocolate and sampling a few flavors, there is a chocolate exhibit at the Jungfraujoch as well as a multimedia chocolate adventure at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne.
With a beautiful logo of the Matterhorn and a hidden bear representing its place of origin, Bern, the Toblerone chocolate bar is a Swiss classic. The unique Toblerone recipe with almonds, honey and nougat was first established in 1908 by Theodor Tobler and Emil Baumann. The recipe hasn’t changed since and classic Toblerone products worldwide are still produced with milk from 14,000 local Bern dairy cows. Toblerone’s unique triangle shape is said to be designed after the majestic Matterhorn mountain making it one of our favorite shaped of Switzerland chocolates.
Switzerland is the largest per capita consumer of chocolate in the world, at 8.8 kilos/person! To us, that means it’s ok for you to try your fair share. Large portions of every grocery store are devoted to it, and the choices are practically endless. If you are traveling through Switzerland on a hiking adventure with Alpinehikers, be sure to try a variety of local Swiss chocolates. And don’t forget to bring some home… your friends and family back home will thank you.