13 February 2007

Chocolate Contestants

The Chocolate Project involved the three best known and most popular chocolatiers in the Zürich area (in alphabetical order): Merkur, Sprüngli and Teuscher.

With four retail locations in the Zürich area, Merkur is the underdog among Zürich chocolatiers. Originally founded in Bern in 1905, Merkur quickly expanded to more locations as well as various types of products from chocolates to coffee and finally supermarkets and Kiosk stations. Bought by Läderach AG in 2004, the stores have remained Merkur, but the chocolate sold in them is now labeled Läderach.

This company is best known for offering an wide array of unusual chocolates such as Chili Pepper Chocolate and Sushi Chocolates. By the way, the Sushi Chocolates look like sushi, but actually use Pistachio Truffle Cream, Apricot Preserves and so on. I'm not certain that even the wild flavorings of Merkur would include raw fish!

Sprüngli is the oldest and most established of the large Zürich chocolatiers with 16 retail locations within the Zürich area. The groundwork for the company was laid in 1729 when David Sprüngli purchased a confiserie shop on Marktgasse in Zürich. Chocolate production began in 1845, soon after the process for making solid chocolate was first developed. In 1859 Sprüngli opened its flagship store on Paradeplatz and it soon became a popular place to "see and be seen."

Sprüngli is known not only for its fine chocolates, but also for the Luxemburgerli, which premiered in 1957. Small pastry and creme-filled delights shaped to look like mini-hamburgers, Luxemburgerlis come in several flavors including caramel, raspberry and, of course, chocolate.

Although there are only 4 retail locations in Zürich, of the three chocolatiers Teuscher has the most retail locations world-wide and is available throughout Europe, the United States, Asia and even in Dubai. It is also the youngest of the three, originally founded by Dolf Teuscher in the 1930's in a small Alpine Village. (Unfortunately I was unable to determine which small Alpine village it was! The Teuscher website had very little corporate history posted.)

Teuscher is most famous for the champagne truffles introduced in the 1940's. Many have tried to copy the taste, but true Teuscher fans say that no one has succeeded.

Come back tomorrow to discover the
Winner of the Blind Chocolate Tasting!


Greg said...

I believe that much of Merkur's chocolate was supplied by Läderach when they were previously owned by Valora.

Global Librarian said...

Huh. Their website doesn't mention that!

CanadianSwiss said...

All these entries about chocolate are finally getting to me (usually more the salty type). I need chocolate!

Greg said...

Yep, Murkur is only recently a Chocolatier, as they are now Läderach's points of sale.

One thing I didn't know before looking at Merkur's website is that they had originally bought Kiosk AG. That's quite ironic, as Kiosk ended up selling a Merkur that was much smaller than the one that had bought Kiosk.

Merkur also had a coffee business. That was sold to a dutch company.

To make things more confusing, Valora still uses the Merkur tradename for some of their divisions.

BTW, you should try some Aeschbacher chocolate if you get a chance. You'll often find their chocolate in backereis and konfissereis across the country. They have an outlet store in Canton Zug.

Ms Mac said...

I have to agree with the statement about Teuscher's champagne truffles- the best. I also loved their chili pepper chocolate. Sprüngli's Luxemburgerlis are amazing, have you tried any yet? Merkur's white choc with raspberry is my favourite white choc in all of the world.

Not that I eat a lot of chocolate or sweets, like! ;-)

Global Librarian said...

CS - go get some chocolate! Soon you will be back in Canada and European chocolate will be but a memory...

Greg - trust me when I say that this is just the beginning. I started with Merkur, Sprüngli and Teuscher because I continually heard people debating which one was best. The chocolate tasting was too much fun to not do again. It will happen again with a different batch of chocolates!

Ms. Mac - oh yeah, I've had the Luxemburgerlis. They are wonderful! Not much of a white chocolate fan, though. It's too sweet for me. I tend towards the dark chocolate.

Chris said...

I love the criollo de maracaibo pralines from Sprüngli-dark chocolate and covered in unsweetened chocolate powder, so not too sweet, but addictively creamy. It's disgusting, but two of us can easily polish off 160 grams in under 45 minutes. Have you tried them?

Sarah said...

When I lived in San Francisco, it was always a special treat to go to the Teuscher store in Union Square and splurge on fine chocolate. Ahhh... brings back good memories.

Thanks for sharing your chocolate adventures. I'm looking forward to my own chocolate adventure this week: spouse has promised to bake me a chocolate tart for Valentine's Day tomorrow.

Expat Traveler said...

oh man - this is such good stuff. But since I am a chocolate lover, I know very well about these places..

I guess for now, I'm trying to stay away seeing that I have a swim suit to wear this weekend!

Expat Traveler said...

GL - There are still touches of European chocolate everywhere! I guess we have bits of more comercialized stuff easily available such as lindt and other swiss chocolate bars, but don't those count. ;-)