Swiss chocolate pioneers in the 19th century

Not surprising as chocolate has been more than just a sweet temptation in Switzerland for more than 200 years. Selected ingredients are blended together in Swiss chocolate. Behind the refined exterior, these are the factors behind the success story of Switzerland: inventive spirit, quality consciousness, hard work – and an uninhibited sense of taste and enjoyment.
However, chocolate does not by any means have its origin in the heart of Europe. The cocoa bean even less so. It was the Aztecs: They drank hot chocolate as early as the 14th century. It is said to have been bitter, even spicy. At any rate, that was the opinion of Hernán Cortés. Nevertheless, he brought cocoa across the Atlantic; the year was around 1520.
Soon afterwards, the coffee was refined at the Spanish royal court. Honey, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon make the drink sweeter, milder. But the common people did not even know it by name. 

Chocolate then came to the other European courts. And it did so – yes! – thanks to love. When Anna, Princess of Spain, married the French king Louis XIII, chocolate reached France. Great joy in Versailles! It then arrived in no time at all at every royal court in Europe. And every self-respecting person drank chocolate. And that brought the chocolate pioneers onto the scene. There had to be more to this noble commodity! A dessert maybe? Chocolate was not yet available in solid form. They experimented, roasted, ground, mixed: the taste pioneers in Italy, Belgium, Germany, Holland – and particularly in Switzerland.

The age of pioneers

The 19th century: The age of pioneers. Factories were built, the steam engine was invented, the railway, the telephone – and chocolate, soft and melt-in-the-mouth, as we know and love it today. Its inventor: Rodolphe Lindt.

Switzerland, the land of chocolate? In actual fact, the Swiss make chocolate for the whole world. And for themselves: They eat more of it than anyone else.

Small, impassable, poor: That was Switzerland at the start of the 19th century. Not a very good basis for chocolate experimentalists. It meant that even more enthusiasm, wealth of ideas and entrepreneurial spirit were required. Switzerland had plenty of that and the success story could begin.

From 1819 onwards, the names started to appear that still symbolise Swiss quality today. François-Louis Cailler, founder of the first mechanised chocolate production facility; this was where milk chocolate was invented; Philippe Suchard, a confectioner and from 1826 onwards also a chocolate manufacturer; Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann, founder of the first chocolate production facility in German-speaking Switzerland in 1845; Aquilino Maestrani, a Ticino-based chocolate maker who opened a production facility in Lucerne in 1852 and – of course! – Rodolphe Lindt.

With his chocolat fondant1, Rodolphe Lindt laid the foundation in 1879 for the success of Lindt & Sprüngli AG, which was founded twenty years later, together with Rudolf Sprüngli. Swiss chocolate now became world famous. Thanks to its unsurpassable quality – and thanks to the growing interest in travel. The English, Germans, Russians and Americans visited Switzerland in their droves. Mountains were suddenly très chic. And lakes too. Not to mention hospitality. And what did they take back with them? Chocolat fondant of course! Chocolat Suisse was now a seal of quality. And it still is today – particularly when it comes from LINDT. 

A lot has changed since then. And yet: Rodolphe Lindt's chocolat Surfin3 is still produced today based on the 1879 recipe and packed in the original wrapping. Because even though we are still driven by the inventive spirit of the pioneers, we know that connoisseurs all over the world appreciate traditional quality.


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