Certain things go hand in hand
Laurel and Hardy. Timon and Pumbaa. Bad luck and sulfur
The inseparable pair we are looking at in this case, however, has nothing to do with overweight warthogs or clumsy comedians, but with the world-famous symbiosis "Switzerland and chocolate"
It is no secret that we love sweet temptation. After all, chocolate consumption by the Swiss ranks first in Europe. In 2019, Mr. and Mrs. Swiss consumed a remarkable 10.4 kg of chocolate per person, while our northern neighbors in Germany came in second with 8.8 kg.
Whether this is a podium position to be proud of remains to be seen. The fact is, however, that Switzerland is famous for its chocolate, not least because the chocolatiers at Lindt invented milk chocolate by a mishap in 1879
As you can imagine, tons of chocolate is made in Switzerland every day and to the delight of all sweet tooths, there are several chocolate factories that open their doors to visitors. So if you want to get a glimpse behind the scenes of one of Switzerland's most important flagships, you've come to the right place.
The person behind this famous chocolate brand is called Aquilino Maestrani. In 1852, this ambitious entrepreneur and tinkerer founded the company and thus left his mark on Swiss chocolate history. The Maestrani company also owns the Munz and Minor brands, which are indispensable in any supermarket in this country.
Today, approx. 3,500 tons of Maestrani products are produced annually, which is equivalent to the weight of about 600 adult African elephants. Of these, 35% leave Switzerland as export goods, while the remaining 65% are sold in Switzerland
So, chocolate. Not elephants. 🙂
Maestrani's](https://www.maestrani.ch/angebot/marken-erlebniswelt) assortment includes such classics as the delicious "Munz-Brügeli", the chemical and sticky Munz Banana - which evokes either positive or negative childhood memories in every Swiss - the Minor chocolate sticks often served with coffee, or the cute lucky bugs
Maestrani, however, produces not only chocolate. Caramel bars, fruit jelly creations and marzipan mice are also in their territory.
At the Chocolarium, everything revolves around the question of how happiness gets into chocolate. After all, that's the burning question, isn't it?
An interactive experience trail takes you for about an hour through the history of Swiss chocolate and the House of Maestrani, past tasting opportunities in the form of chocolate fountains or cocoa nibs bowls, into the production world to a 100-meter-long chocolate machine, and finally into the store, where you'll find an abundance of Maestrani creations.
In the show confectionery, you'll have the chance to decorate your own chocolate bar and take it home as a souvenir. If your stomach still allows it after this culinary excursion, the Schoggi Café awaits you at the end with further offers.
Admission to the Chocolarium costs CHF 14 for adults. You can find more prices and reductions here. If you want to decorate your own chocolate bar, you pay an additional 10.- CHF.
If, in addition to the chocolate factory, you are considering a visit to the show cheese dairy in Stein, the Walter Zoo in Gossau or the tree-top walk in the Neckertal valley, the combination ticket with a price reduction in the Chocolarium is an option for you
The Chocolarium is located in Flawil in the canton of St. Gallen. By car, you can reach the chocolate factory via the A1 highway and the Oberbühren exit. For the arrival by public transport you take the train to Flawil or Uzwil and change there to the post bus to the stop "Maestrani".
Of all the Swiss chocolate brands, Lindt is the one you are most likely to encounter in the farthest corners of the globe. In all my travels, I've barely stepped foot in a supermarket that didn't offer a Lindt product in some form or another. Not to mention the airports
If you are interested in the annual report of this gigantic company, I recommend you look at the latest figures.
The name behind the world-famous Lindor balls and golden chocolate bunnies has its origins in the late 19th century. Initially known as Lindt & Sprüngli, production started in 1899 in Kilchberg on Lake Zurich
Originally, chocolate was a rather bitter and inedible affair. But by the happy coincidence that the conching machine was not switched off one Friday afternoon at the Lindt factory in 1875 and the bitter mass continued to be stirred without interruption until Monday, the sweet and creamy milk chocolate that continues to seduce us today was born.
Hooray for forgetfulness, I would say.
The Home of Chocolate is brand new and opened in the midst of the Corona pandemic in September 2020. It is fair to say, without exaggeration, that it is a superlative project. In one of the world's largest chocolate fountains, a full 1,500 kg of chocolate circulate at a height of over nine meters, and at 500 m², the Lindt store in the Home of Chocolate is the largest of its kind.
A museum explains everything about the history of chocolate as well as the origin of its ingredients before moving on to the infamous tasting hall. There, three chocolate fountains are available for free service. If there's one room you won't want to leave in a hurry, it's this one.
Or maybe it's the buffet that follows, where you can eat your fill of various types of Lindor balls as the mood takes you?
Afterwards, you'll get a glimpse of the Lindt testing facility, where they're constantly working on new creations and treats. This is the second last step before you can redeem your entrance ticket for a surprise and the tour is over.
Admission to the Home of Chocolate costs CHF 15 for adults. More prices, discounts and available tours can be found here. If you are interested in a course, the Home of Chocolate also has the corresponding offer.
Like the chocolate factory that opened in 1899, the Home of Chocolate is located in Kilchberg on the southern shore of Lake Zurich
I recommend that you use public transportation to get there, as the location is perfectly integrated into the transportation network of the Zurich region. There are regular buses and trains to and from Zurich main station
In Switzerland, the names Ragusa and Torino are not primarily associated with southern cities, but with creamy chocolate
Because of the melodious name, chocolatier Camille Bloch named his hazelnut chocolate creation in 1942 after the city of Ragusa, now Dubrovnik in Croatia. With Torino chocolate, a second delicacy was added in 1950, which still turns heads all over Switzerland today.
Chocolats Camille Bloch is a Swiss family business founded in Bern in 1929. Today, the company is run by the third generation and new creations are constantly coming onto the market
With an annual production volume of 3,700 tons, Camille Bloch weighs about 15 adult elephants more than Maestrani. Comparatively little of this is exported. Only 20% ends up abroad
We prefer to eat the rest ourselves
The factory where the Ragusa and Torino treats are made cannot be visited directly. Instead, Camille Bloch has built a visitor center right next to the chocolate factory, where you can see the production process up close.
After a short excursion through the history of Camille Bloch and Swiss chocolate after the First World War, the tour takes you past two chocolate fountains and two snacking columns with nuts and cocoa beans. I recommend you hold back a bit in this area, though, because you'll regret it by the time you get to the demonstration areas at the latest
In the next section of the visitor center, two chocolatiers show you step by step how the Ragusa and Torino chocolate sticks are made. Of course, you can help yourself to whatever you like afterwards, and no one will tell you that your sugar level has been reached for the day
Simply paradisiacal circumstances.
Finally, in the café and store, you have the opportunity to treat yourself to more sugar bombs or even create your own personalized Ragusa gift box. If you'd like to try your hand at chocolatiering yourself, one of the ateliers offers the opportunity
Admission to the Chez Camille Bloch Visitor Center costs CHF 15 for adults. You can find more information about tickets here
Chez Camille Bloch is located in Courtelary, a village in the Bernese Jura. By car you can reach Courtelary in 20 min from Biel and La Chaux-de-Fonds or in 60 min from Bern and Fribourg. By train you can easily reach Courtelary via Biel or La Chaux-de-Fonds, followed by a five-minute walk
Cailler is the oldest chocolate brand in Switzerland and has its origins in Vevey on Lake Geneva. Cailler has been shaping the Swiss chocolate landscape since 1819 and it's hard to imagine a supermarket without this name either
At the end of the 19th century, the new site in Gruyère - which you've probably heard of in connection with a certain type of Swiss cheese - was put into operation. For over 100 years, production of the endlessly varied Cailler range has taken place in this factory.
What you may not have known is that Cailler merged with Nestlé in 1929. Also part of this empire are common names like Frigor and Fémina.
La Maison Cailler is the Cailler Visitor Center, which was ceremoniously opened in 2010. In their lovingly decorated museum, you'll be guided through the history of Swiss chocolate - starting with the cocoa beans in the jungle and ending with the Swiss cows
As a little heads up, it must be said here that the first few minutes of the tour are somewhat reminiscent of a ghost train and it is not uncommon for children to start crying in the gloomy surroundings. In the early days of chocolate, the Aztecs were not always peaceful..
After this first part, however, things become cheerful again and, at the latest at the creatively designed nibbling stations, the initial mischief is water under the bridge. Before you reach the actual tasting hall with a generous selection of Cailler chocolates, you are guided past a machine that lets you follow the entire production line of a Cailler chocolate stick.
You can round off your visit with culinary delights and pick up a souvenir or two along the way in the café and store.
La Maison Cailler is located in Broc, a village in the canton of Fribourg near Lake Gruyère. By train, you can reach the Broc Fabrique station via Fribourg and Bulle. If you arrive by car, the A12 freeway between Bern and Lausanne is the right way via the Bulle exit.
Who does not know them..
The delicious broken chocolate with nuts, cornflakes, caramel pieces, smarties, raisins, coconut chips and many other creative ingredients. Hardly any shop window is as attractive as that of a Läderach store. Be it at the airport, on Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich or on Marktplatz in St. Gallen
But pralines, chocolate-covered popcorn or the legendary "MiniMousses" are also part of this Swiss chocolatier's specialties.
The Glarus-based family business was founded in 1962 and has had an impressive career. Läderach is now represented all over the world with more than 80 branches in 15 countries. And the trend is upwards. A highlight in Läderach's history was certainly 2018, when Elias Läderach won the title of "World Chocolate Master" at the Chocolate World Championship.
By the way, the Chocolate Master's masterpiece can be seen at the House of Läderach. And yes, it is indeed made of chocolate, even if it looks more like a glass sculpture.
Like the Lindt Home of Chocolate, the House of Läderach opened its doors in the fall of 2020. Pandemic or not.
Upon entering the Visitor Center, you are immediately greeted by the sweet smell of chocolate and handed a piece of chocolate and a porcelain spoon as a ticket so you are prepared for the guided tour.
In the first part of the tour, the history of the Läderach family is explained and then the supply chain of the necessary ingredients is shown. There is also always the possibility to ask questions right away, which in my view is a big plus compared to the self-guided tours in the other chocolate factories.
My favorite thing during the tour, apart from the three-part chocolate fountain of course, was the direct insight into the production. The last part of the tour leads into the production hall where the chocolate is made. However, it is not processed here. At Läderach, all creations are made by hand, which is why you can "only" observe the manufacturing process of the liquid chocolate here.
Speaking of liquid chocolate. The House of Läderach has a chocolate fountain from which white, light brown and dark chocolate flows simultaneously. This is where your porcelain spoon from the entrance comes in handy and you get to test your way through the sweet streams to your heart's content.
The tour of the House of Läderach costs CHF 15 for adults. The chocolate bar, which also serves as an admission ticket, includes a 5.- CHF voucher that can be redeemed in the store at the end. In addition, you have the opportunity to create your own chocolate in the Atelier or have it designed by a professional.
The House of Läderach is located in Bilden in the canton of Glarus. By train, you travel from Zurich, Chur or St. Gallen to Ziegelbrücke and change there to the bus to Bilten. By car you can reach your destination via the A3 between Zurich and Chur via the Bilten exit
In addition to all the big, high-production names on the Swiss chocolate landscape, there are also smaller, less familiar players, but no less noteworthy. One of these is undoubtedly the Aeschbach manufactory, a family business that was founded in Zug in 1972.
One product from the house of Aeschbach that is likely to be familiar to every Swiss is the Schokoladentaler. Also known as "Schoggitaler".
The endless Wednesday afternoons when we had to go from door to door in elementary school and sell these thalers for a good cause have admittedly not remained in my best memory. These large, golden thalers have thus burned themselves indelibly into my memory. Fortunately, I can now look at them again without getting goose bumps before the upcoming sales talk as a third-grader.
Apart from the Schoggitalers, Aeschbach produces a variety of chocolates, chocolate bars, seasonal creations and other house specialties. You can find a glimpse of Aeschbach Chocolatier's assortment here.
In Aeschbach's ChocoWelt, as the name suggests, you can immerse yourself in the world of chocolate. During the interactive tour, you will learn all about the history of chocolate and the production of Aeschbacher's house specialties
Of course, the journey of the cocoa bean with all its tasting possibilities is not to be missed. And the contact with the chocolatiers, who are happy to answer questions and hand out samples, is not neglected on the tour.
After the tour, you will have the opportunity to stock up on Aeschbach Chocolatiers' specialties in the store and café.
Admission to Aeschbach's ChocoWelt costs CHF 15 for adults. As with Läderach, this price includes a voucher of 5.- CHF which can be redeemed in the café or in the store. For a surcharge of CHF 10 you can decorate your own 200 g chocolate bar as part of ChocoWelt Plus and take it home as a souvenir.
Aeschbach's ChocoWelt is located in Root near Lucerne. By train from Lucerne, you can reach the Root D4 stop - special name, I know - in just ten minutes. By car, take the A14 freeway between Lucerne and Zurich and exit at Gisikon-Root
You may now be wondering why another big name - which can easily hold a candle to Lindorkugeln in terms of fame - is missing from this list.
That's a fair question. In fact, it is not possible to get to know Toblerone better and visit a production facility. So you'll have to make do with the assortment in supermarkets and at almost every airport in the world
This shouldn't be a big deal, though, as you'll be well prepared for the next rainy day or your next bout of chocolate cravings with the visitor centers described here
With your visit, you will also help us defend our podium position as "the chocolate monsters of Europe". 🙂