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Switzerland does not have a tropical climate, what it does have are conditions completely in conducive for the growth of cocoa. Neither did the Swiss ever have any colonies in the cocoa capitals of Africa or South America. They have no ethnic connection whatsoever with the Aztecs or the Mayans, who were the first to place any kind of value on cocoa beans, both for consumption and as currency. Chocolate is definitely one of the big Switzerland attractions, but how exactly did a tiny Alpine country become the world leader in chocolate production and innovation?

Well, it comes down to three basic things:

Chocolate is its purest form is not the divine food of the gods that we can’t live without, it’s more than a tad too bitter and quite the opposite of all things beautiful in this world. So we add to it sugar and that magic ingredient called milk. Switzerland probably has more cows than people and therefore, large quantities of afore mentioned magic ingredient. It’s easier to bring the cocoa to the milk rather than the other way around, milk ruins at the drop of a hat.

Pure chance. It just so happened that the best chocolatiers were of Swiss origin and achieved world domination through a century of remarkable innovation.

Francois-Louis Cailler - turned gritty cocoa beans into a solid, smooth chocolate bar.

Rudolph Lindt - eventually perfected the smoothing process by adding cocoa butter with a machine he called the conche.

Charles-Amédée Kohler - added hazelnuts to chocolate.

Jean Tobler – the Toblerone bar, nothing more to be said.

Daniel Peter - figured out how to combine cocoa powder with local milk to create milk chocolate, Viola!

Perfect location. For more than a century, including the two great wars, Switzerland was the hub for pretty much everything coming north from the colonies. Italy in the south from where the cocoa was unloaded and Germany and France in the north, who were the largest consumers. And Switzerland nestled in at the perfect spot with an abundance of milk and people who could work the chocolate.

Chocolate plays a major role in the country’s economy, including propelling Switzerland tourism. Eating out in Switzerland has to include fondue, one chocolate and one cheese. Maybe it even has a role to play in the country’s incredibly long list of nobel laureates, second only to Sweden! Or maybe it doesn’t, I’m going to eat the whole bar of toblerone by myself today…no sharing!

As the newest member of the content team, Shivangi Rajendran comes from the world of professional dancing. With a passion for travel and a flair for writing, the Masters in Mass Communication is just an added advantage. A gypsy at heart, she doesn’t believe in planning and is always ready to pack her bags and leave.

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