“Chocolate is happiness that you can eat” – Ursula Kohaupt
Well there is no getting around the fact that nothing is as tempting and alluring as an elusive piece of chocolate. After all, this magical combination of cocoa, cocoa butter, milk, sugar and a plethora of flavours is a universal favourite with people of all ages! And when it comes to chocolate nothing can beat the taste of Swiss chocolate for Switzerland is the place where chocolate in the form, we all know today was invented. Till then, chocolate was more of a drink and was consumed as a beverage. Thanks to the imagination and ingenuity of the Swiss, chocolate was transformed from a rather bitter drink to a luscious, silky bar giving rise to an industry that is presently worth billions of dollars.
Cailler: a fascinating history
It was in the year 1796 that a gentleman named François-Louis Cailler was born in Vevey near Lake Geneva. Francois Cailler who would go on to create Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand, set up a mechanised facility for the first mass produced Swiss chocolate in 1819 in Vevey. While Cailler continued to produce chocolates on a large scale, his son-in-law Daniel Peter devised the idea of adding milk to chocolate in order to not only make it more palatable but also reduce costs. Hence milk chocolate was born.
It was in 1898 that Alexandre-Louis Cailler, the grandson of François-Louis Cailler opened a new factory in present day Broc where milk and hazelnut chocolate were manufactured on a large scale. Since then, the company has grown from strength to strength with the introduction of new flavours, varieties like pralines and innovative technology making it not only the oldest but also one of the world’s finest chocolates. The brand that was relaunched under the name “Cailler of Switzerland” in 2006 has reputed brands like Frigor and Cailler that are manufactured in the organization’s factory at Broc even today.
So, what makes Cailler’s chocolates unique? It is one among the very few brands of milk chocolate that is made using condensed milk as against powdered milk lending it a creamier texture and a richer milky flavour.
Maison Cailler: a delectable experience
Isn’t it everyone’s dream to visit a chocolate factory? Well Broc in Switzerland is the perfect plan for you. An idyllic town located in the district of Gruyère in the canton of Fribourg, Broc is synonymous with the Cailler chocolate factory. An ideal day trip from Zruich or Geneva, it is rightly touted as Switzerland’s favourite chocolate experience.
The factory that is open to visitors is a perfect way to gain an insight into the history, evolution and growth of not only Cailler but also chocolate in general in the land of Helvetia. With a wide variety of experiences ranging from history to tasting to demonstrations, hands on chocolate making and shopping, a visit to Maison Cailler in Broc is surely an immersive and engaging one.
A journey of discovery
The tour of the factory starts with a multimedia animation show that depicts the discovery of chocolate tracing its origin to the cocoa bean. The show is played for a batch of visitors and while one is waiting, the photographs on the walls describing the scenes of the yester years captures the history of the brand right from the 1800s to the 1960s. Starting with Mexico, the film itself, traces the journey of chocolate to Europe via the Spanish and then France and finally Switzerland where the enrichment of chocolate takes place in the 19th century. The music, displays and the entire production of the film is riveting to say the least.
Visitors are then treated to an extensive explanation of the entire process of chocolate making right from the growing of cocoa to every stage of the chocolate manufacture. Each step is explained meticulously with audio guides, pictures, case studies and an actual display of raw materials at every stage. Hence, visitors can touch and feel the cocoa beans, additives like hazelnuts, almonds and the like.
After this, visitors can view the production of “Mini branches” which is a popular brand from the house of Cailler via a fully automated line. At the end of the line, you can sample the freshly churned goodies too!
Save the best for the last
The last part of the tour is reserved for tasting which Cailler rightly describes as a multi-sensorial experience. A holistic tasting involves all sense organs including viewing, hearing, smelling, feeling, tasting and the ‘after’ tasting experience. Right from milk chocolate to dark chocolate to pralines, the range reserved for sampling is generous and quite irresistible.
You can also create your own custom bar of chocolate by choosing your favourite ingredients in a special section called the “Mon chocolat Cailler“. The complex also has a large outlet that retails all the brands of Cailler chocolate. Look out for deals and discounts to ensure you make the best of your visit!
This article was originally published in the Sakal times.