Vol.1, No.3

All about nestle chocolate

Nestle makes the very best...everything! A yummy overview of the company that originated Butterfingers, KitKats, Toll House cookies, Nestea and, of course, chocolate.

Nestle chocolate
Photo Credit: Michal Strzelecki
ALL ABOUT NESTLE

One of the most famous brands of chocolate in the world, Nestlé, actually began as a maker of condensed milk. Its founder and namesake, Henri Nestlé, was a pharmacist who, in the 1860's, developed a formula for children who could not breastfeed. That formula, farine lactée, was based on milk and cereal prepared through a special baking process. At around the same time, his neighbor and close friend, Daniel Peter (himself a successful confectioner), was looking to add milk to his chocolate. He was having the same problems Nestlé was having with his formula - how to extract water from the milk. It was not until 1875 that Nestlé and Peter successfully combined their products to allow Peter to create the wonderful phenomenon of milk chocolate.

Nestlé himself was bought out of the company that today continues to be his namesake in 1874 for the princely sum of one million francs. After a series of mergers, the Nestlé company-owned plants in the United States, Great Britain, Germany, and Spain offered a wide variety of prepared food products. In 1904, chocolate was added to the mix with the acquisition of the Swiss General Chocolate Company. It was still condensed milk that was the biggest seller - and demand forced Nestlé to open more factories, including one in Australia to serve the burgeoning Asian market.

After the First World War, Nestlé soon found itself having to reexamine its business. The general economic slowdown, combined with the access to fresh milk, caused demand for condensed milk to drastically plummet. In response, Nestlé focused more on chocolate products. In addition, in 1930, the Brazilian Coffee Institute approached Nestlé seeking ways to reduce that nation's huge coffee inventory. Eight years of research later, Nestlé had the answer - Nescafé. Just a few years later, Nestea was introduced.

Henri Nestlé and Daniel Peter worked closely together during their lives, and Nestlé, an early marketing genius, help his good friend market and distribute what soon became internationally known as some of the world's best chocolate. Peter's company, Peter, Cailler, and Kohler, used Nestlé milk for its products. It was Peter's father-in-law, Francois-Louis Cailler, generally regarded as the father of Swiss chocolate, who inspired Daniel Peter, although equal credit must be given to Peter's wife Fanny. It was not until 1929, however, that their companies finally and officially merged. Today, the Nestlé corporate headquarters is still in Vevey, Switzerland, the same town where Henri and Daniel worked so closely together well over a century ago.

Nestlé's premium chocolates are still produced in Europe. Cailler Switzerland® continues the name of the patriarch of Swiss chocolate. The "European Collection" offers a number of chocolates from Great Britain and Italy. Quality Street®, is named after a J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame) play. Each individually wrapped piece offers the best of toffees, cremes, and other confections. After Eight® chocolate covered mints are regarding as England's finest.

Perugina® chocolate began production in 1907. By 1939, the Italian chocolatier introduced its confections to America, and it is now known and loved throughout the world. Perugina chocolates began as a labor of love between Giovanni Buitoni, the heir to Perugina, a small Umbrian village, and Luisa Spagnoli, a skilled confectioner. Among her creations was the Baci®, a chocolate kiss ("baci" is Italian for kisses) wrapped in love notes that she would send to Giovanni to proclaim their secret love. Today, Perugina chocolate is one of the more glittering jewels in the Nestlé European Chocolate crown. Beyond the premier chocolate products, Nestlé also offers a number of additional chocolate products throughout Europe, include Germany and Hungary.

In the Americas, Nestlé markets a number of familiar brands, including favorites like Nestlés Crunch®, Butterfinger®, KitKat®, and the nutritious PowerBar®. Perhaps best known are the Toll House® cookies, cookie dough, and chocolate chips. The Toll House name comes from an inn opened in the early 1930's in an old Massachusetts toll house. The inn was called the Toll House Inn. One day, the owner and cook, Ruth Wakefield, decided to place chunks of Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate in an old cookie recipe. Rather than melting, the chocolate held its shape but softened to a delicious creamy texture. The cookie was an enormous hit, and soon Nestlé and Mrs. Wakefield had reached an agreement to allow the company to print the recipe on the wrapper of their semi-sweet chocolate bar. By 1939, Nestlé had perfected making the chocolate morsels that even today are a part of millions of delicious chocolate chip cookies. South American specialized products are manufactured in Brazil and Chile.

Nestlé is today and international corporation offering many consumer products, from premier chocolate to dog food (Purina®) to bottled water (San Pelligrino®). Nestlé is Switzerland's largest company and employs almost a quarter of a million people worldwide. Nestlé buys about 10 percent of the world's supply of coffee and cocoa beans. While many view Nestlé as a multi-national conglomerate of the many diverse companies it has acquired over the decades, the fact remains that its headquarters is still in a small town in Switzerland and the decisions are still being made in Vevey on the beautiful shores of Lake Geneva.