What do you think of when you hear the word Switzerland? Watches, cows in Alpine meadows, Roger Federer, the Geneva Convention, sure… but for many people it’s CHOCOLATE.
Last year, Lindt threw open the doors to the world’s largest chocolate museum. Just 15 minutes drive from central Zurich in Kilchberg, Lindt: Home of Chocolate offers a magical day out for sweet tooth owners of all ages, and we knew we had to add it to our Swiss itinerary!
As soon as we walked in, we felt a giddy childlike sense of wonder. The futuristic white building soared three stories above us, with the ground floor dominated by an enormous 30 ft chocolate fountain cascading over a giant Lindt ball, and an equally huge chocolate shop! Plus it smelled amazing…
Visiting the museum is done by self guided audio guide, available in 6 languages, and you make your way through an interactive multimedia exhibition beginning in the forests of Ghana. Here we learned all about how cocoa is currently grown, harvested and processed into the Lindt chocolate we know and love, while maintaining sustainable, eco-responsible methods and Fair-Trade relationships with the Ghanaian farmers.
Next, travel back in time to learn about the history of chocolate. It all starts in Central America with the ancient Mayans who drank “xocolatl”. Fast forward to the 15th century when this cocoa water makes its way to Spain after the conquistador Cortés encountered the Aztecs and their “drink of the Gods”. Xocolatl was too bitter for western tastes, so the Spanish whisked it with honey and sugar, and when French King Louis XIII married Spanish Princess Anne of Austria, the secret was out and drinking chocolate exploded in wealthy European society.
The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century and the invention of the chocolate press made the process of making chocolate far quicker and more cost effective, allowing lower classes to enjoy the sweet treat. But this is still only half the story... the next room explores ‘the Swiss Pioneers’: how a small country became a global chocolate capital. It has a lot to do with the abundance of milk produced up in the lush Alpine pastures which makes Swiss chocolate mouthwateringly creamy. In 1875, when Daniel Peter teamed up with his Vevey neighbour, Henri Nestlé to add his baby food designed milk powder to chocolate, an milk chocolate was born! Swiss chocolatiers went on to create brands that are still famous today: Daniel Peter’s Gala, Toblerone, Nestlé, Cailler, Sprüngli and of course, Lindt!
In the centre of this room is Lindt’s breakthrough technology -the conching machine, where chocolate is repeatedly rolled from side to side for up to 5 days, producing a much smoother texture. This enabled Lindt to create the velvety melt-in-your-mouth chocolate in the centre of Lindt balls.
Speaking of mouth watering, after learning so much about chocolate, we were desperate to taste some! Luckily, Lindt: Home of Chocolate understands this, and the next few rooms allow you to indulge in as much chocolate as you like. Passing through displays of historic packaging and posters and the moulds for the famous gold Lindt bunny, you can help yourself to spoonfuls of liquid milk, white and dark chocolate, and catch squares of different flavoured chocolate as they are broken off and dropped from machines. We tried luscious dark orange and crunchy sea salt caramel, both delicious!
The grand finale is Chocolate Heaven, where a long counter, manned by Lindt master chocolatiers in their famous white coats and chef hats, held tubs of every flavoured Lindor truffles you could imagine, from stracciatella to strawberries and cream, and you are welcome to try as many as you fancy! If you love Swiss chocolate (and we REALLY do!), then this will be a dream come true.
Once we prised ourselves away from the sweet treats, a raised walkway over the main atrium and the chocolate fountain leads to a long glass window where you can watch the pilot plant machinery in action, where new products are created.
Don’t miss the shop on your way out – it’s the largest Lindt shop in the world and sells a staggering range of chocolates. There were flavours that we’d never seen before, like a bar of dark chocolate with pear and almond, and matcha flavoured Lindor truffles!
We were given an amazing goodie bag at the end of our visit with some sweet treats that we can't wait to try, like a 70% dark chocolate bar with orange and almonds.
Opening times and prices
Lindt: Home of Chocolate is open Monday to Sunday, 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
Entry with an audio guide is 15 CHF for adults, 10 CHF for 8 – 15 years olds. Under 8s are free!
Or you can also join a 1 hour guided tour for CHF 23, 18 CHF for 8 – 15 year olds. Guided tours are not available for under 8 year olds.
For the chocoholics amongst you, Lindt: Home of Chocolate also runs chocolate courses, where you can work with a Master Chocolatier to create your own chocolate bar!
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Disclosure: We were gifted free entry to Lindt: Home of Chocolate in return for a blog and Instagram coverage, but as always, all opinions are our own!