Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chocolate Travels: Switzerland!

Although this is not always the case, when I find a good chocolate that I like, its origins tend to reach back to Switzerland (or very close neighbors). Hallelujah for that country and their chocolate history! I'm sure chocolate would not be where it is today if it wasn't for them, and that would just be an honest shame.

So, as I was snacking on my Milka bar this morning that I got for Christmas (can you believe it's lasted this long?), I was reminiscing about the first time I had a Milka bar. It was back the summer of 2002. I was doing Study Abroad in Costa Rica, and the food court at the University had them visible in every corner it seemed. Same way at the mall. I had never even seen one of these before. So I had to try it. It did not disappoint. That's one of those moments where I started realizing that most mainstream chocolate in the U.S. was somewhat of a sham and I'd definitely been missing out up to that point. Well, when I came back to the states, as expected, I had not just overlooked this candy bar. Milka bars were no where to be found in my territory. Now 8-ish years later, I am happy to announce that you can find a Milka bar without having to go to a foreign country, although you may have to visit a few different stores.

Don't you just love this cow?
So anyway, I looked at the back of the bar and was surprised to find that Kraft actually owns Milka. Upon further research, I found out they've owned it since 1990, but just didn't really sell in the U.S. until recently. This bar I'm eating was made in Germany. But where did Milka actually come from? My interest was piqued, so of course a quick Wiki search was called for.

And this is what I found. The original Milka bar was formed around 1884 by the Suchard Company (founder Phillipe Suchard from Switzerland). He started a confectioner's business in 1824 and actually developed a method to grind cocoa paste which is still used today. I could go into details, but I'll just say, kudos to you, Mr. Suchard. You done good.

So, as I previously stated, all good chocolate seems to have Swiss roots. This brings me to my second thought as my mind was wandering. I once passed through Zurich, Switzerland, on a layover from some travels in Europe. Upon passing through, I wished I had planned it into the trip. It was the most fairytale village I have ever seen. The scene was absolutely breathtaking. And obviously others think so, too. The airport was very protective - checked our passports at least 20 times it seemed, and had armed security guards throughout to make sure no one could try to enter illegally. They might never want to leave.

Anyway, although we couldn't actually stay long, there was a duty-free shop in the airport. And you guessed it..... lots of chocolate. We settled for the oversized Toblerone - it was huge. Each Toblerone letter was the size of its own candybar. And who is the distributor of Toblerone? Kraft. Interesting. But the original chocolatiers were Theodor Tobler and Emil Baumann from, you guessed it, Switzerland. They merged with Suchard in 1970 and were then obviously included in the Kraft buy-out.

I think I really better plan a trip to Switzerland. And maybe I'll just end up staying.

1 comment:

  1. Well, at least when Kraft bought everyone out, they didn't change the recipes. I was eating a few chunks of a Milka bar from my freezer the other day.