Aktualisiert: 15. Juli
Swiss chocolate is world famous. It has a rich history and gained a reputation for being some of the best chocolate in the world. The production combines modern techniques with traditional methods. Not only do Swiss people eat more chocolate per capita than anyone else, Switzerland is also one of the world's biggest chocolate producers with more than 200'000 tonnes of chocolate produced in 2019.
While the cocoa beans are most often sourced from Africa and South America, chocolate gained high notoriety across the world as a truly Swiss product. So how did this happen? Switzerland has a reputation for high quality standards, and this very quickly extended to the art of making chocolate. It all started in the early 19th century, when Louis Cailler who was the first to open a mechanized chocolate production factory in 1819. His son-in-law, Daniel Peter, developed the world’s first milk chocolate bar by adding condensed milk to the recipe, paving the way for Switzerland’s thriving chocolate industry. Switzerland is now home to 16 chocolate manufacturers and many small and medium-sized chocolate makers such as Lindt, Toblerone, Sprüngli, Cailler, Villars and Läderach.
So what about the chemistry of chocolate?
The compounds in chocolate that allegedly have positive effects is theobromine, which comes from the cacao bean. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. Milk chocolate has less than dark chocolate, and white chocolate is “technically” not even a chocolate because it includes no cocoa solids, only cocoa butter!
Theobromine is an alkaloid, a family of compounds that many plants produce, including the cacao plant. Chocolate is the richest natural source of theobromine, but coffee and tea contain some of it too! Because theobromine chemically resembles caffeine and has a similar stimulating effect on our brains, chocolate is often combined with drinking coffee! But be careful with how you store your chocolate, because theobromine is toxic to dogs and cats, so remember to keep your stash out of the reach of your pets!
But theobromine is not the reason why it feels so good to eat chocolate, so what is ?
Chocolate does have significant amounts of a compound called phenethylamine that causes brain cells to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter with a feel-good effect. However, when we ingest phenethylamine, our bodies break it down before it can reach our brains, so it doesn’t actually influence our mood… The real culprit is most likely a much more common compound, which is sugar—specifically the combination of sugar with chocolate’s high fat content. This combination activates the reward centers in our brains. So one can enjoy chocolate, with moderation!
Where to Buy the Best Swiss Chocolate in Zurich.
No trip to Switzerland is complete without tasting the world-famous Swiss chocolate. Whether you like pralines, milk or dark chocolate, or handmade bean-to-bar specialties, chocolate is a must when you are visiting Zurich. Look at the map to find some "chocolate locations" around the Zurich Main Station.