As soon as we were nearby, I immediately noticed the scent of chocolate in the air. I have the worst sense of smell and thought this was just a trick of my imagination. Everyone could smell it, too. We had arrived at the Lindt & Sprüngli production plant. Unfortunately, they don’t conduct factory tours but you can pop into the chocolate shop. They do, however, offer specialty chocolate experiences, where the chocolate connoisseurs: Lindt Maître Chocolatiers, show you how to make your own Lindt creations. Though to be honest, I would rather have preferred a factory tour to see how my favorite chocolates are made.In 1879, Rodolphe Lindt, the son of a pharmacist, wanted to make chocolate in Bern – something that was soft and palpable and more importantly, pleasing to the palette. He basically wanted something that was not hard to process and eat, as chocolate was at the time. So he bought an old factory hall with antiquated machines and started conducting several experiments. But nothing really worked, and instead, a white layer formed on the chocolate mass, making him the laughing stock of the Bernese society.
Rodolphe’s brother, Auguste, who was a pharmacist, analyzed the white coating that turned out to be crystallized fat. They continued testing, trying all sorts of things like adding more cocoa beans and cooking the cocoa butter but nothing seemed to be working. Then one Friday, Rodolphe left the factory leaving the machines on for a whole weekend. And when he returned the following Monday, he found chocolate fondant as we all know it today, becoming the first person to experience how the luscious Lindt chocolate melts in the mouth. he found chocolate as we know it today.
Soon, everyone was going crazy for this delicious chocolate fondant and demand grew. In the mid-1890s, his small factory, amidst a lot of pressure, was ready for demolition as modernization was necessarily vital. But help came in the spring of 1898 when Rodolphe met a wealthy chocolate entrepreneur from Zurich: Johann Rudolf of the Sprüngli family. He bought the Lindt brand of Rodolphe for over three million Swiss Francs. And the rest is history.
For almost 150 years, no one has managed to discover the secret behind the family recipe in making some of the finest Swiss chocolate. Till today, the secret recipe is placed in a safe, after Rodolphe Lindt revealed it to the Sprünglis, who were sworn to secrecy.
And soon, from Bern, the production of the classic chocolate fondant moved to Kilchberg, where it is still located today, with the Lindt & Sprüngli shop just meters away.Past the main entrance, everywhere we looked, there was chocolate. Immediately, an employee offered us Lindor chocolate balls to try.Wandering through the store, we noticed that there was everything from the popular pick and mix Lindor section to specialty summer bars to pralines carefully wrapped in beautiful packaging.Besides finding bars from the original Lindt from the 1800s, we also got to see an automated display machine that explained the bean-to-bar process, from cultivating the cocoa beans in Africa right through to creating the finished chocolate product in Europe.And we even get a personal photo souvenir at a designated photo point. It was quite a fun way to spend an afternoon and we left with bags of delicious Swiss chocolate.
With deep regrets, Jaini and I are sad to announce that a few days after our visit to the Lindt & Sprüngli Shop, a bag of our favorite Lindor flavors: Coconut and Mint got left behind in the car and they all melted. We are grateful for all your kind messages and appreciate the remaining Lindt still with us.
— Diva Shah
Lindt & Sprüngli Shop is located at:
Photos by Diva Shah