Affiche Cailler. Maison Cailler Museum, Broc. Photo/Bild: TES.

Two Centuries Swiss Chocolate

Switzerland is the country of mountains, cheese, and watches, but also chocolate. Chocolate beans do not grow in this country, however.

The brown bean was introduced in Europe in the sixteenth century, initially for the luxury of hot chocolate for the upper class, and from the nineteenth century for the ordinary citizen.

Chocolate, derived from the word Xocolati, was used by the Aztecs as early as 1 500 B.C. It made its appearance in Switzerland in the eighteenth century.

Inhabitants of Tessin and French-speaking Switzerland emigrated to the centres of cocoa production at that time: Paris, Milan, Venice, and Nice.

In Switzerland, too, chocolate became a sought-after product as a result of factory processing in the nineteenth century.

François-Louis Cailler (1796-1852) opened Switzerland’s oldest surviving chocolate factory in Corsier-sur-Vevey in 1819, followed in 1826 by Philippe Suchard (1797-1884) in Neuchâtel and in 1836 by David Sprüngli (1776-1862) in Zurich.

In 1875 Cailler introduced milk chocolate. Rudolf Lindt (1855-1909) discovered another application in 1879. This application made chocolate popular and Swiss chocolate of exceptional quality: melting on the tongue.

The history of chocolate is a Swiss success story: innovation, export, ingenuity, tradition and emigration.

In 2010, the Cailler company opened the museum of this history of two hundred years. (Further information: