swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

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Chocolate arrives in Switzerland

Heinrich Escher, mayor of Zurich, was introduced to chocolate in Brussels in 1697 and brought it back home, where it was discreetly consumed at the feasts of the various guilds which ruled the city, until the Zurich Council banned it in 1722 as unfit for virtuous citizens. (It had a reputation as an aphrodisiac.)

The Swiss in general had to wait several decades before wandering Italian "cioccolatieri" brought the drink to Switzerland. The first chocolate manufacture was set up around 1750 by two Italians in a former paper mill near Bern, the Schermenmühle. It was not a great success: the locals did not take to it, and the mill was soon given over to producing flour instead. Nevertheless, before the end of the century other factories appeared in western Switzerland - Vevey, Morges and Lausanne - and in the Blenio Valley in canton Ticino. The first chocolate shop in Switzerland opened in Bern in 1792.