24 April 2008

Where Are the Oompa-Loompas?

Last week, at the invitation of Jill, we caught an exceptionally early morning train and rode out to Buchs in Canton Aargau in order to tour the Frey Chocolate Factory. (Note: we discovered it is pronounced "fray," not "fry" as I had thought.)

We arrived at the factory shortly before 9 am and were shown to the visitor lounge, where we were served croissants with your choice of coffee or hot chocolate. Astoundingly, everyone else in our group went with coffee. I know! It's not like it's a Coffee Factory! What were they thinking?

There were several groups gathered that morning for the tour. They brought us all into a small theater where they gave a welcoming speech in Schweizer Deutsch. (Of the close to 75 people in the room, only 11 were native English speakers. Only one of those 11 understood even a little Schweizer Deutsch, but such is life.)

Then they showed a comically hookey movie about a little girl visiting her grandfather, a retired chocolatier, and her discovery of the antique chocolate making equipment in the basement. Fortunately, this was subtitled in English! And the large group was separated after the movie so our tour was in English.

After the movie each group was taken through the locker room where we left our belongings and donned hair nets, lab coats and little booty things for our feet.

Modelling our attractive ensemble are Jill with her guests from Minnesota:

Cameras are not allowed into the factory itself, so that is the end of the photos!

I actually found the visit to the factory to be quite interesting. But I discovered a very sad thing. At the beginning of the chocolate making process, chocolate does not smell very good. In fact, it smells kind of disgusting. With my too-good sense of smell, combined with the nasty smell followed by the overwhelming smell of the chocolate later on the tour, I ended up a bit overwhelmed by the aroma and actually felt queasy.

Which was very bad. Because on the chocolate factory tour you can eat as much chocolate as you want. There are tasting stations placed along the route. And I felt so ill I could only eat 2 very small pieces of chocolate. They gave us samples to take home with us and I couldn't even look at them until the next day.

However, I still recommend a trip to the factory, especially if your sense of smell is not as well developed!


Kirk said...

My favorite Swiss chocolate wasn't anything fancy like Sprungli, but rather the basic Migros brand made by Frey. How did I never get to their factory for a tour?!?

Expat Traveler said...

I used to ride past this factory from time to time. Very interesting indeed. Frey is still quite good and I'm already wishing I could have more Swiss chocolate from Switzerland and not Canada... haha

Cool report!

Global Librarian said...

You will both be happy to know that Target in the US recently became the source of Frey Chocolate in the United States. Targets are everywhere. Although ET, you'll have to slip across the border to Bellingham to get a quick Swiss chocolate-fix!

Kirk said...

Great, we have a Target right down the street! I just hope they don't alter their milk chocolate to fit American tastes...

Global Librarian said...

They don't change it for the American taste. They change it for the American laws. The FDA requires milk products sold in the US use pasteurized milk. European laws do not require that.

That's also why the imported cheese from Europe tastes different.

Lynda said...

My sister worked for a chocolate shop in Sydney while she was still at school - they allowed all new staff to eat as much as they wanted..within a day, she didn't want anymore and didn't eat another piece in the whole year she worked there.. There is a chocolate Museum in Cologne, but they keep all their goodies behind glass.. it is torture.