Commemorations

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, although no chocolate bean grows there. This brown bean was only introduced in Europe in the sixteenth century, initially as the basis for luxury hot chocolate for the upper class, and only from the nineteenth century onwards for the ordinary citizen. Chocolate, derived from the word Xocolati used by the Aztecs as early as 1 500 B.C., made its appearance in Switzerland in the eighteenth century.

Moreover, during this period, inhabitants of Tessin and French-speaking Switzerland moved to the centres of cocoa production at that time: Paris, Milan, Venice, and Nice, as the cake bakers (and hoteliers) from Graubünden (Grisons), would do with great success in the nineteenth century.

In Switzerland, too, chocolate became a sought-after product for the people 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 1836 by David Sprüngli (1776-1862) in Zurich.

In 1875 Cailler introduced milk chocolate. Rudolf Lindt (1855-1909) found another application in 1879, which makes chocolate so popular today and Swiss chocolate of exceptional quality: melting on the tongue. The history of chocolate is also a Swiss success story: innovation, export, ingenuity, tradition and emigration. In 2010, the Cailler company opened the museum where this 200-year history is displayed in a tasty way. (Further information: www.cailler.ch/en/maison-cailler).