Swiss chocolate is chocolate produced in Switzerland. While cacao beans and other ingredients such as sugar cane originate from outside Switzerland, the actual production of the chocolate must take place in Switzerland. Switzerland's chocolates have earned an international reputation for high quality with many famous international chocolate brands.
Switzerland is particularly renowned for its milk chocolate, the most consumed type of chocolate. In 1875, a Swiss confectioner, Daniel Peter, developed the first solid milk chocolate using condensed milk, which had been invented by Henri Nestlé, who was Peter's neighbour in Vevey.
In addition to milk, a wide variety of ingredients other than cocoa are used to make the most popular chocolate bars. They notably include nuts (mostly hazelnuts and almonds) and dried fruits (raisins).
The 17th century saw the start of chocolate processed in Switzerland. In the 18th century chocolate was only produced in a few areas, such as Ticino.
The early 19th century saw the first mechanized chocolate factories, all in western Switzerland. Among the pioneering industrials were François-Louis Cailler, Philippe Suchard and Charles-Amédée Kohler.
In the second half of the 19th century, Swiss chocolate started to spread abroad. Closely linked to this was the invention of milk chocolate by Daniel Peter in Vevey and the invention of conching by Rodolphe Lindt. Most large chocolate factories were founded in the 19th and early-20th centuries.
Brought from Central America to Europe by Hernán Cortés in 1528, cocoa beans and chocolate finally reached Switzerland in the 17th century. In the 18th century, hydraulic mills were already used in the production of chocolate in Switzerland, for instance the Schermenmühle in Bern around 1750. However, most of the chocolate made at the time was mainly the work of Italian and French migrant artisans, active in Ticino (Val Blenio) and Vaud. A company was founded in 1767 in Vevey (see below), another one in 1788 in Morges. Two were founded in Lausanne in 1792. At that time, chocolate was essentially consumed as a drink and transport of cocoa beans was slow and difficult, therefore making the product very expensive. It is unclear when chocolate bars meant for raw consumption were made for the first time. It is known, however, that chocolate was also eaten in the form of barks or pastilles (instead of being grated into drinks) by the end of the 18th century.
In the early 18th century, chocolate was still an artisan product. The chocolatiers (cioccolatieri) of the Val Blenio, in Ticino, are a particularly notable example. They migrated throughout Europe and created a network of small shops and cafés, where chocolate was sold and could be consumed. In the early 20th century, the Cima Norma Factory would be founded by returning emigrants. Earlier, in 1819, a chocolatier from the Val Blenio, Giovanni Martino Bianchini, founded a factory in Turin (Italy) which would be used by Caffarel.
On the other hand, Vevey, in the canton of Vaud, would become a major center of the Swiss chocolate industry. The first well documented chocolate production in Switzerland is that of Philippe Loup and Benjamin Rossier, who started manufacturing chocolate in 1767. Two years later, their production was mechanized using the water-powered Clergère mill. They also obtained a ten-year Privilegium Exclusivum by the Bernese authorities. The cocoa beans were ground and blended with molasses. The hardened paste was then cut into cakes and delivered wrapped in a simple sheet of paper. Loup and Rossier would quickly face competition by numerous other chocolate producers in the region. By 1806, seven chocolate manufacturers were counted in the district of Vevey alone. Together, these seven companies produced about 450 (old) quintals of chocolate yearly (approx. 22 500 kg), of which the 7/8 was exported abroad, essentially in other Swiss cantons but also in France and Germany.
In 1819, Swiss grocer and chocolatier François-Louis Cailler, inspired by the Ticinese chocolatiers, founded Cailler and opened a sophisticated and water-powered chocolate factory in Vevey, which allowed him to produce solid chocolate that was molded into tablets. He is sometimes credited for their introduction, although those had probably been made earlier. After a few years, sixteen different sorts of chocolate with different packagings were proposed. Shortly after, in 1826, another Swiss chocolatier, Philippe Suchard, opened a chocolate factory in Neuchâtel where he developed a millstone machine to mix sugar and cocoa: the melanger, which is still used today. Before opening his factory, Suchard realized that a small tablet sold at a pharmacy was worth three days' wages.
A few years later another chocolate factory was founded by Charles-Amédée Kohler in Lausanne: Chocolat Kohler. One of the main specialties of the company was hazelnut chocolate, made since the beginning in 1830. Hazelnut chocolate was the precursor of all combination chocolate bars. The Kohler company is also the creator of the Branche, which ultimately became one of the most popular candy bars on the Swiss market.
In 1875, the Swiss entrepreneur Daniel Peter, based in Vevey and related to the Cailler family, first successfully combined cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and sugar with condensed milk, recently created by his neighbour and friend Henri Nestlé, to produce milk chocolate. However, it is only after many years of fine-tuning that the original formula was developed and, in 1887, the Gala Peter brand was finally launched. Daniel Peter called his product 'Gala' after the Greek word meaning 'milk'.
Meanwhile, the chocolate industry was again revolutionized by another Swiss chocolatier, Rodolphe Lindt from Bern, who developed conching in 1879. The conching process allowed the production of a chocolate with superior aroma and melting characteristics compared to other processes used at that time. The Lindt chocolate company states that Lindt (perhaps mistakenly) allowed a mixer containing chocolate to run over a weekend (or possibly overnight, according to other variants of the possibly apocryphal story). Upon returning to the device, Lindt recognised the final product to have different properties to conventionally produced chocolate at the time, with a less granular texture and greater shine than conventional chocolate at the time, which was generally gritty when solidified owing to the presence of non-ideal cocoa butter crystals. Lindt's invention made the mass-production of chocolate bars more practical, eventually replacing chocolate beverages as the primary means of mass chocolate consumption.
The new conching technique and the success of Gala Peter in particular opened a breach into which all the manufacturers rushed. Not only did milk soften the bitterness of chocolate and refined its taste, but it also lowered its production cost due to a lower cocoa content; milk is a widely available resource in Switzerland. As a consequence, Peter's recipe leaked to other nearby manufacturers: Cailler and Kohler. In 1898, Cailler opened its new factory at Broc, where milk chocolate began to be produced on a large scale. Peter also opened a larger factory at Orbe in 1901, before merging with Kohler. The same year, Suchard launched the Milka brand; Carl Russ-Suchard had previously developed a first milk bar in 1896. The chocolate industry also expanded in the late nineteenth century with the establishment of new companies, such as Frey and Tobler.
From these developments, Switzerland soon dominated the chocolate market. Production increased dramatically, and by 1905, the country was producing 15,000 tonnes (15,000 long tons; 17,000 short tons) of chocolate, a vast proportion of it exported. As a result of the increasing popularity of chocolate, world cocoa consumption began to grow extraordinarily. To meet these demands, cocoa production expanded, notably in West Africa, where the Forastero variety began to be mass cultivated in the early twentieth century. Although considered inferior to the Criollo variety, the Forastero type bean is more suited for the manufacture of milk chocolate and is cheaper to produce owing to its higher yields. Conversely, milk became the critical ingredient. Contrary to cocoa and sugar, milk spoils quickly, therefore it cannot be stored for long periods of time. This favoured the implantation of large factories (as well as new populations of workers) in the countryside, where abundant fresh milk supplies are readily available. The Cailler factory of Broc is a typical example.
The Union libre des fabricants suisses de chocolat ("free association of Swiss chocolate manufacturers") was founded in 1901. It gave birth to Chocosuisse, the umbrella association of chocolate manufacturers in Switzerland.
Swiss chocolate consumption increased dramatically from the beginning to the end of the 20th century, from about 1 kg to 12 kg per capita per annum.
Although partly developed outside Switzerland, white and ruby chocolate were also invented by Swiss-based chocolate manufacturers Nestlé and Barry Callebaut, in 1936 and 2017 respectively.
Chocolate produced in Switzerland can take a wide variety of shapes. The most common products are chocolate tablets (typically standard 100 g bars) and individual bars. These are either plain or made with other ingredients, such as hazelnuts and almonds, in a more or less elaborated ways. Chocolate eggs, bunnies, or figurines are also made by most manufacturers during Easter and Christmas.
Most of the chocolate produced is milk chocolate, followed by dark and white chocolate. Chocolate specialties like ganache and praline/gianduja are often used for filled tablets, combinations bars, truffles and pralines. In addition of being popular, hazelnuts specialties (like gianduja) help minimize the amount of cocoa, historically an expensive ingredient, in the finished product. The Branche, a praline-filled bar, is a typical example of combination between chocolate and hazelnuts.
The primary ingredient, cocoa, is not grown in Switzerland; only anecdotal quantities of chocolate using fully indigenous ingredients have been made to date. Cocoa is essentially imported from West Africa. The other common ingredient, milk, is widely available in the country, which has a long dairy farming tradition. Milk ingredients are complex and critical in delivering the properties and taste to milk chocolate. Milk-origin (terroir) and associated farming have become an important marketing topic.
From the 19th century until the First World War and throughout the Second World War the Swiss chocolate industry was very export-oriented. After the Second World War Switzerland began to outsource production due to commercial restrictions.
Today most Swiss chocolate is consumed by the Swiss themselves (54% in 2000), and Switzerland has the highest per capita rate of chocolate consumption worldwide (11.6 kg (25.6 lbs.) per capita per annum).
In 2004, 148,270 tonnes of chocolate were produced in Switzerland. 53% of this was exported (20% to Germany, 11% to France and Great Britain and 13% to North America). The gross income of the Swiss chocolate industry in 2004 was 1.37 billion CHF (814 million from the local market, 551 million from exports).
Since the expansion of the chocolate industry following the invention of milk chocolate, Swiss chocolate has been heavily advertised using images of Alpine sceneries (often with the Matterhorn) and dairy farming traditions. This replaced the typical colonial imagery that was used before. Alpine themes eventually became widespread among international chocolate manufacturers.
In 1901, Swiss chocolate producers created the Union libre des fabricants suisses de chocolat. In 1916, this was divided into the Chambre syndicale des fabricants suisses de chocolat and the Convention chocolatière suisse. The former "Chambre syndicale" (today the Chocosuisse) protects the interests of Swiss chocolate producers. The "Convention chocolatière" focused on the quality of the chocolate and sought a uniform price strategy. In 1994 the Convention was disbanded.
Several factories have also become tourist attractions as they include guided tours and chocolate museums. Some of the largest are the Lindt Home of Chocolate in Kilchberg, the Maison Cailler in Broc and the Maestrani's Chocolarium in Flawil.
Amenés d'Amérique centrale en Europe par Hernando Cortez en 1528, les fèves de cacao et le chocolat atteignirent la Suisse au XVIIe s. au plus tard. Au XVIIIe s., la vente et la fabrication artisanale du chocolat, pour laquelle on utilisait en Suisse des moulins hydrauliques (Schermenmühle à Berne vers 1750), était surtout le fait de travailleurs migrants italiens et français, actifs au Tessin (val Blenio) et au bord du Léman (une entreprise fondée en 1767 à Vevey, une en 1788 à Morges, deux en 1792 à Lausanne).
Already by the end of the 18th century there had been a perceptible increase in the amount of chocolate being eaten, in slabs and pastilles...
In 1819, Giovanni Martino Bianchini conceived and built [...] (a machine for the crushing of cocoa, sugar and drugs, and for all the operations of the manufacture of chocolate). A similar machine was also used by Pier Paul Caffarel, heir to the factory that would subsequently be called Casa Caffarel (Caffarel house).
Dall'elenco dei nominativi emerge come la produzione artigianale della cioccolata a Torino, nei primi decenni del XIX secolo, sia appannaggio di alcune famiglie originarie del Canton Ticino, e in particolare del l'area di Aquila e Campo Blenio, come lo stesso Giovanni Martino Bianchini[From the list of names it emerges how the artisanal production of chocolate in Turin, in the first decades of the 19th century, was the prerogative of some families originating from the Canton of Ticino, and in particular from the area of Aquila and Campo Blenio, such as Giovanni Martino Bianchini himself]
Bis heute ein Zentrum der schweizerischen Schokoladeindustrie begannen Philippe Loup und Benjamin Rossier hier bereits 1767 mit der zunächst vermutlich handwerklichen Herstellung von Schokolade. 1769 erwarben sie die „Moulin de la Clergère" in Vevey...[A center of the Swiss chocolate industry to this day, Philippe Loup and Benjamin Rossier began making chocolate here in 1767, initially presumably by hand. In 1769 they acquired the "Moulin de la Clergère" in Vevey...]
Ils broyaient la fève, la mélangeaient à de la mélasse et obtenaient une pâte brune et odorante, qu'ils débitaient en galette et livraient emballée dans une simple feuille de papier.[They ground the bean, mixed it with molasses and obtained a brown and fragrant paste, which they cut into cakes and delivered wrapped in a simple sheet of paper.]
Chocolate factories began to appear in Europe as early as 1728, but they used age-old labor-intensive methods to grind and churn their products. It was not until 1819 that the first sophisticated chocolate factory was established in Corsier, Switzerland, by François-Louis Cailler.
À partir de 1820, ce sont surtout les Suisses qui vont innover, créer, améliorer les techniques de chocolaterie. Le premier est François-Louis Cailler, l'inventeur de la tablette de chocolat telle que nous la connaissons aujourd'hui. En 1826, Philippe Suchard ouvre une chocolaterie à Serrière, près de Neuchâtel, en Suisse. Il met au point une machine à meules pour mélanger le sucre et le cacao. C'est un immense progrès.[From 1820, it was above all the Swiss who were to innovate, create and improve chocolate-making techniques. The first is François-Louis Cailler, the inventor of the chocolate tablet as we know it today. In 1826, Philippe Suchard opened a chocolate factory in Serrière, near Neuchâtel, Switzerland. He develops a millstone machine to mix sugar and cocoa. This is a huge progress.]
Cacao first arrived in Spain in the 1520s, then the Spanish Netherlands in 1606 (Norton 2008). Braudel (1992) traces the first arrival of cacao to Europe in the form of loaves and tablets—already processed, but solid.
Pourtant il y en avait déjà pour tous les bourses, du «Pur Caraque» au «Commun sucré». Il s'en faisait alors à la cannelle et à la vanille. Le prix-courant d'alors disait: «Ceux à la cannelle demi batz en sus, ceux à la vanille un batz par livre de douze onces». Le tout formait une série de 16 qualités avec 16 emballages différents[However, there was already something for every wallet, from "Pur Caraque" to "Common sweet". Cinnamon and vanilla flavored chocolates were made. The list price then read: "Cinnamon ones half batz extra, vanilla ones one batz per pound of twelve ounces." The whole formed a series of 16 qualities with 16 different packaging]
Et la principale friandise est bien la tablette et non les granulés, les vermicelles, les paillettes, la poudre ou les décors plutôt présents en pâtisseries. Grâce à ce petit parallélépipède de cent grammes, vingt centimètres par neuf, le produit de luxe est devenu une friandise démocratique, définitivement sorti des pharmacies où était très cher, Philippe Suchard ayant calculé que guérir sa mère avec une plaque de quelques dizaines de grammes coûtait trois jours de salaire ouvrier.[And the main delicacy is the tablet and not the granules, vermicelli, flakes, powder or decorations rather present in pastries. Thanks to this small parallelepiped of one hundred grams, twenty centimeters by nine, the luxury product has become a democratic delicacy, definitively released from pharmacies where it was very expensive, Philippe Suchard having calculated that curing his mother with a tablet of a few tens of grams cost three days' wages.]
Les noisettes furent les premiers fruits à être ajoutés dans le chocolat solide, une innovation suisse due à Kohler en 1830.[Hazelnuts were the first fruits to be added to solid chocolate, a Swiss innovation due to Kohler in 1830.]
C'est le précurseur de tous les chocolats avec des ingrédients : amandes, noisettes, raisins et fruits secs.[It is the precursor of all chocolates with ingredients: almonds, hazelnuts, raisins and dried fruits.]
The original Branche was first mentioned in Kohler's recipe books in 1896.
Vers 1896, Carl Russ lance une première tablette de "chocolat au pur et délicieux lait suisse". Son emballage représente un paysage alpestre sur fond blanc. Elle est remplacée, une décennie plus tard, par le chocolat Milka. 'Milch und Kakao', tel est en substance la signification de ce nom déposé en 1901.[Around 1896, Carl Russ launched a first tablet of "pure and delicious Swiss milk chocolate". Its packaging represents an alpine landscape on a white background. It was replaced a decade later by Milka chocolate. ‘Milch und Kakao’, this is the essence of the meaning of this name registered in 1901.]
Les années de prospérité qui suivent sont aussi marquées par une concurrence féroce, visible dans les changements de nom de la société de Daniel Peter au fil des fusions et acquisitions jusqu'à son rachat par Nestlé. Ce sont aussi les coups bas: la trahison de son neveu Paul Brandt qui vend la recette du chocolat au lait à Kohler vers 1897 ou celle de l'un de ses contremaîtres qui va offrir ses services à Cailler... (dont la petite manufacture est passée de huit salariés à Vevey en 1890 à 1300 salariées en 1903 à Broc!)[The years of prosperity that followed were also marked by fierce competition, visible in the name changes of Daniel Peter's company through mergers and acquisitions until its takeover by Nestlé. These are also the low blows: the betrayal of his nephew Paul Brandt who sells the milk chocolate recipe to Kohler around 1897 or that of one of his foremen who will offer his services to Cailler... (whose small factory has gone from eight employees in Vevey in 1890 to 1300 employees in 1903 in Broc!)]
Après des siècles d'évolution, le chocolat tel que nous le connaissons actuellement était enfin né. Avec l'ouverture des usines Frey (Aarau, 1887) et Tobler (Berne, 1899), l'ère des pionniers s'achève.[After centuries of evolution, chocolate as we know it today was finally born. With the opening of the Frey (Aarau, 1887) and Tobler (Bern, 1899) factories, the era of the pioneers came to an end.]
Global demand for chocolate declined for several decades in the early nineteenth century until the invention of milk chocolate and the chocolate bar in Europe during the 1870s. Between 1880 and 1900, global consumption of chocolate grew 800 percent, and consumption continued to expand through the twentieth century.
As a result of all these changes, world consumption of cacao beagn to grow extraordinarily. [...] Not surprinsigly, cacao supplies expanded to meet these demands. These new cocoas and chocolates were composed almost entirely of forastero cacao. While that cacao was widely considered of poor quality, as opposed to the criollo variety, it was perfect for the new industrial cocoas and chocolates. It also came from sources that had not been significant producers of cacao in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and that did not offer the climatic conditions necessary for growing criollo cacao. By the opening decades of the twentieth century African producers were emerging as the world's most important suppliers of forastero cacao with the Gold Cost leading world cacao producers.
Most of the chocolate sold is milk chocolate and Forastero type beans, with their hard butter (and lower price), are more suited to its manufacture.
Even then, and under the best of conditions, milk lasts only a few weeks. Because chocolate factories require an enormous amount of fresh milk every day—tens of thousands of gallons—they need a nearby supply.
The selection of a site in Broc was made deliberately to locate it in Switzerland's picturesque Gruyere region, renowned for its fine milk production.
Emballée de rouge, de bleu ou de vert, la branche de chocolat au lait fait partie de l'identité helvétique. Créée en 1907 par Cailler dans son usine de Broc pour écouler les déchets et brisures de confiserie qui étaient refondus et roulés à la main en boudins [...] Emballée dans une feuille d'aluminium, elle fut appelée «branche». Cette appellation trop générale ne fut pas protégée. Elle devint peu à peu le nom générique de tout bâtonnet de chocolat, qu'il soit sorti de Broc ou fabriqué par les marques concurrentes qui toutes se mirent à copier l'original.[Wrapped in red, blue or green, the milk chocolate bar is part of the Swiss identity. Created in 1907 by Cailler in its factory in Broc to dispose of broken confectionery that was remelted and rolled by hand into sticks [...] Wrapped in aluminum foil, it was called a "branch". This too general appellation was not protected. It gradually became the generic name for any chocolate stick, whether it came out of Broc or manufactured by competing brands, all of which began to copy the original.]
ist Chocolatier und hat die erste Schokolade hergestellt, die ausschliesslich aus Schweizer Zutaten besteht. Der Kakao stammt von Kakaobäumen aus der Zürcher Masoala-Halle. Der Erlös der Schokolade, die zum Goldpreis verkauft wird, geht vollumfänglich an ein Projekt zum Schutz des Regenwaldes in Masoala auf Madagaskar.[is a chocolatier and made the first chocolate made exclusively from Swiss ingredients. The cocoa comes from cocoa trees in Zurich's Masoala hall. All proceeds from the chocolate, which is sold at the price of gold, go to a project to protect the rainforest in Masoala, Madagascar.]
À la fin du XIXe siècle, certaines marques de chocolat ont une inspiration de génie en ce qui concerne le marketing: elles décident de valoriser leur produit avec une iconographie typiquement suisse, en remplaçant l'imagerie coloniale par l'imagerie alpestre.[At the end of the 19th century, some chocolate brands had a genius inspiration when it came to marketing: they decided to promote their product with typical Swiss iconography, replacing colonial imagery with Alpine imagery.]
Avec ses 411 864 visiteurs l'année dernière, la Maison Cailler figure en tête des attractions touristiques suisses, en termes d'affluence. [...] Si le Chocolarium ne va donc pas forcément chambouler la hiérarchie des musées chocolatiers pour l'instant, il vient néanmoins renforcer l'offre culturelle de la Suisse en la matière. Une valeur sûre qui a toujours su attirer un grand nombre de touristes dans le pays.[With its 411,864 visitors last year, the Maison Cailler is the top Swiss tourist attraction in terms of attendance. [...] If the Chocolarium is therefore not necessarily going to upset the hierarchy of chocolate museums for the moment, it nevertheless reinforces the cultural offer of Switzerland in this area. A safe bet that has always been able to attract a large number of tourists to the country.]