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Melting Chocolate - A Discovery Made by Chance?

In 1879, chocolate was a brittle, rough-surfaced and somewhat bitter substance. Rodolphe Lindt however, developed the first ever recipe for smooth, melting chocolate – the “Chocolat Fondant” and thus revolutionized the entire chocolate industry. This secret recipe, which is still well-guarded today, is one of the cornerstones of Lindt & Sprüngli’s successful chocolate-making history. Myths still surround the story of its origins today.

Chocolate Now and Then

In 1879 chocolate was not the velvety, sweet and melt-in-the-mouth delicacy that we know today. Instead it was a brittle, rough-surfaced and somewhat bitter substance which was laboriously pressed into moulds by hand. Chocolate at the time was far from being a feast for all senses.

Rodolphe Lindt, son of a pharmacist and master confectioner, intended to manufacture chocolate, which would stand out among the other products of the day. With this goal in mind, Lindt's brother August, also a pharmacist, expressed the opinion that the extra liquid in the chocolate paste, which crystallized with the sugar, should be extracted during processing. And why not add some cocoa butter at the same time to smooth out the conventional paste’s texture? No sooner said than done!

The Invention of Melting Chocolate

The truth around how exactly Lindt's melting chocolate was invented will remain a mystery. One possibility is that, following the advise given by his brother August, he let the conche stir the chocolate mass uninterruptedly for a long time period . Or, as we are told in a different version of the company saga, on one random Friday he simply forgot to turn off his conche for the weekend, and thus let the chocolate masses be stirred for three days straight. It is, of course, impossible to confirm details of events that occurred more than 130 years ago...

However, the result is the same: He invented melting chocolate, the basis for the production of chocolate as we know it today.

The first chocolate from Lindt - chocolat fondant - with Rodolphe Lindt's signature on itThe first chocolate from Lindt - chocolat fondant - with Rodolphe Lindt's signature on it

“Chocolat Fondant” - The Melting Chocolate Was Born

The substance which Rodolphe Lindt obtained was vastly different from conventional chocolate paste. This new chocolate mass was dark, velvety, with a matte gleam. It was easy to mould, and melted slowly on the tongue. As a result of the conching process, this new melting chocolate was able to develop all its enticing flavor; without a doubt, it was unique. Lindt called it chocolat fondant - literally “melting chocolate”. With this invention, Rodolphe Lindt was the first chocolatier ever to taste and then produce chocolate as we know it today - chocolate with a smooth, velvety, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth feel.

Lengthy processing in a special kind of churning and stirring device which became to be known as a conche, the addition of cocoa butter while the paste was warmed by internal friction, and use of a variety of different cacao beans in a particular ratio were the essential elements of Lindt’s discovery. While the chocolate paste was being stirred, a thin film of cocoa butter formed around minuscule particles of sugar and cocoa, and air bubbles were produced, thereby allowing the flavor to develop to its fullest. At the same time, bitter and acidic agents had a chance to escape. And so, the world’s first melt-in-the-mouth chocolate was produced in 1879.

The Secret of Melting Chocolate Is Revealed

Chocolate manufacturers throughout Europe analyzed the chocolate produced in Berne, but none of them were able to discover the basics of Lindt’s production methods.

In 1899, Lindt sold his factory, his secret and his almost legendary brand name for one and one and a half million gold francs (which corresponds to approximately 100 million Swiss francs today) to Chocolat Sprüngli AG of Zurich.
Lindt's secret was unveiled two years later when the conching process as used to produce chocolat fondants was described in detail in the second edition of a book entitled "The Manufacture of Chocolate".

Swiss Chocolate - An International Guarantee for Quality

The conching process, and Lindt’s revolutionary recipe, made a decisive contribution to Swiss chocolate’s international reputation. Lindt’s original chocolate bar is still made according to the same top-secret recipe.

To date, no chocolate manufacturer has wholly succeeded in uncovering this unique and ectremely well-guarded original Swiss recipe.